Henrique von Gersdorff, Ph.D., a senior scientist in the Vollum Institute, has been elected the recipient of a Humboldt Research Award after having been nominated for this award by Prof. Dr. Tobias Moser (University of Göttingen) and Prof. Dr. Erwin Neher (Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, Germany).
This award is conferred in recognition of lifetime achievements in research. In addition, Dr. von Gersdorff has been invited to carry out research projects of his own choice in cooperation with specialist colleagues in Germany, thereby promoting international scientific cooperation.
Dr. von Gersdorff's research is focused on how synapses encode and process sensory information in the microcircuits of the retina, cochlea, and brainstem. Visual and auditory signals are transmitted from our eyes and ears to the central nervous system at high rates with exquisite precision and fidelity. Accordingly, the first synapses that transmit light and sound signals have specialized active zones for high throughput neurotransmitter release called synaptic ribbons. Dr. von Gersdorff's lab has studied the properties of these specialized synapses using electrophysiological and imaging techniques in different vertebrate species. In addition, the lab studies large synapses in the mammalian auditory brainstem that express conventional active zones of release and fire impulses at high frequencies.