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Bernhard Katz Prize for Dietmar Schmitz

At this year's annual meeting of the Israel Society of Neurosciences, which took place from December 11-14 in Eliat, Prof. Dr. Dietmar Schmitz was honored with the "Bernhard Katz Lecture" for his groundbreaking work in the field of synaptic transmission (December 2005).

Schmitz leads the research group Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology at the Neuroscience Research Center at the Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin. His research interests are in mechanisms of synaptic transmission and their modulation, with a special focus on resolving the cellular and molecular mechanisms of activity dependent changes in synaptic strength. Besides that, Schmitz works on the basic principles of synchronization processes of networks of neurons in collaboration with national and international research groups. His goal is to combine the two approaches, hoping to promote the understanding of learning and memory and research on epilepsy.

The Bernhard Katz Lecture was founded in 1991 by Nobel Laureate Prof. Bert Sakmann through prize funds, to honor his academic teacher, the British Nobel Prize winner Sir Bernhard Katz (1911-2003). Sakmann is at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg. In annual alternation, a young scientists from either Germany or Israel is chosen to hold an honorary lecture in the respective other country. The prize is governed by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Sir Bernhard Katz was born in Leipzig. As a young physician he emigrated to London in 1935, where he continued his medical research. His work on the transduction of excitation between neuron and muscle laid the foundations for modern physiology of synapses, the junctions of neuronal cells. From 1952 to 1978 Sir Bernhard Katz was Professor and Head of Biophysics at the University College London and received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1970.