№ 290/2014 from Aug 13, 2014
Stephan Sigrist, a professor of genetics at Freie Universität Berlin, is being supported by the Berlin Einstein Foundation, so that he can increase the size of his lab, where a multidisciplinary team of neuroscientists and geneticists does research together. Sigrist is one of the leading experts in the field of cellular and molecular organization of the nervous system. Recently his research has contributed to a better understanding of degenerative diseases of the central nervous system, particularly age-related dementia. A biochemist, Sigrist has been courted by top universities around the world for some time. Thanks to the Einstein Professorship, this internationally sought-after researcher will continue to work in Berlin.
Sigrist has been a professor of genetics at Freie Universität Berlin since 2008. He is a member of the NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence, a neuroscience research consortium involving scientists from Freie Universität, Humboldt-Universität, Charité, and three non-university research institutions. He has been a member of the board of directors of NeuroCure since 2009. In addition to his fundamental research, Sigrist would also like to develop therapies against age-related diseases of the nervous system. He says, "We hope that our research will help contribute to the development of simple, but effective treatment options in the future."
Sigrist gained an international reputation through his analysis of synapses with high-resolution light microscopy. His research made it possible to observe the structure and function of the synapses of a living fly at the nanometer scale. Sigrist and his team hope to shed light on fundamental issues pertaining to the nervous system, for example, how the nervous system evolves and adapts to its changing environment – even during the aging process of the organism.
Sigrist says that his research benefits from the numerous opportunities for cooperation that present themselves in Berlin. As he says, a fascinating community in neuroscience has developed here in recent years, which is also strongly perceived internationally. The excellent opportunities for cooperating with colleagues working in neurological fields give Berlin a great locational advantage.
Sigrist first came to appreciate Berlin while he was a student at Technische Universität Berlin. He earned his doctorate in Tübingen and then led a junior research group of the Max Planck Society at the European Neuroscience Institute in Göttingen. Later, Sigrist worked as a professor in Würzburg, before accepting his appointment as a professor in Berlin.
Now he is one of 13 outstanding researchers being given additional funding by the Einstein Foundation Berlin as Einstein Professors. Currently there are four professorships at Freie Universität that are made possible by generous funding through the Einstein Foundation. They include the mathematician Prof. Dr. Hélène Esnault and the professor of North American studies, Prof. Dr. Frank Kelleter. Sigrist's Einstein Professorship is financed by the Damp Foundation (Damp-Stiftung).