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Simon Wiegert, new head of the Department of Neurophysiology

2nd December 2022

Prof. Simon Wiegert has been appointed by the University of Heidelberg to the W3 professorship in neurophysiology as successor to Prof. Rolf-Detlef Treede, who became emeritus at the end of September 2022. Simon Wiegert will also continue to head the Department of Neurophysiology, a role held since October 2022. He and his team will study the relationship between neuromodulation, neuronal plasticity and long-lasting changes in neuronal networks, with a particular focus on the plasticity of synaptic connections.

Previously, Simon Wiegert headed the research group "Synaptic Information Processing" at the Center for Molecular Neurobiology Hamburg (ZMNH), which he founded as part of his successfully obtained ERC Starting Grant. He also held a W2 professorship in neurophysiology and optogenetics at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf. In the field of neurophysiology, his areas of interest range from synaptic-cellular neurobiology to network and systems neurobiology.

"One goal of my research is to understand how structural and functional synaptic changes influence neuronal function and information processing in networks," explains Simon Wiegert. But one of the core questions is also whether and how memory traces are encoded and stored in synaptic networks. So his research is about learning and memory formation on the one hand, but also about cognitive disorders.

To explore this, he will establish optogenetic methods in Mannheim and expand the field of imaging, for example with two-photon microscopy and functional imaging, to study pain and other sensory phenomena. Optogenetics is a collective term for biological techniques that allow control over the activity of selected cells within heterogeneous tissue by combining genetic engineering and light. Optogenetics allows optical methods to be used to test the function of defined cell populations. Neurons and neuronal circuits can be precisely manipulated and studied in this way.

Press release at the Medical Faculty Mannheim (German language)

02.12.2022 Simon Wiegert leitet die Neurophysiologie in Mannheim