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Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine 2017 goes to Tobias Moser

The Jung Foundation for Science and Research is awarding the hearing researcher for his pioneering work on signal transmission in the inner ear and his innovative therapy concepts for the treatment of hearing loss.
Prof. Dr. med. Tobias Moser. Photo: private

Prof. Dr. med. Tobias Moser is this year’s laureate for the Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine. The award, which is highly regarded in the medical world, is being given to Göttingen-based neuroscientist Tobias Moser for his ground-breaking work in signal transduction in the inner ear and his innovative therapy concepts for treating hardness of hearing, and to Nenad Ban, Professor of Molecular Structural Biology at the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biophysics in the Department of Biology of the ETH Zürich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology). The exceptional scientists have both obtained important fundamental results that can be used for further application-related research in their respective fields and are sharing the considerable prize money of 300,000 euros equally.

Hearing (and) understanding
How are sounds heard by our ears? How do we receive acoustic information within a few fractions of a second? Sound waves enter the ear and are converted into electrical signals by the sensory cells of the cochlea, known as hair cells, which our brain can perceive and process. The research aims of Professor Dr. med. Tobias Moser and his staff members are to understand these lightning-speed, highly complicated processes of synaptic sound coding at molecular level, examine their pathology and develop gene therapies. As forerunners, they have developed important groundwork in the field in the past. This has since been very actively investigated by more than 20 working groups worldwide. The scientists working with Professor Moser are also investigating specialised auditory synapses of the brain stem, which transfer information very reliably and with great speed. Since 2008, they have also performed pioneer work in establishing the optogenetic cochlear implant.

Creativity and sense of responsibility as key characteristics
Moser is the Director of and a professor at the Institute for Auditory Neuroscience of the University Medical Center Göttingen. He also heads up the working group "Auditory neuroscience and optogenetics" in Göttingen at the German Primate Centre, the working group "Synaptic nanophysiology" at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry and the associated working group "Auditory neuroscience" at the Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine. This is how the 48-year-old explained his motivation for research: "I am curious by nature and like to really get to the bottom of things. Creativity, commitment, sincerity and sense of responsibility are for me the key characteristics of a successful researcher. For medical doctors, it is furthermore the ability to be a competent medical partner for ill people and finding a good balance between care and acceptance of what the patient wants." Alongside his work, Tobias Moser spends time with his wife and his three children. He loves sport, nature and art.

The Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine, amounting to 300,000 euros in total, is one of the most prestigious prizes for medicine in Europe. The Jung Foundation for Science and Research - founded in 1967 - has been supporting research projects of leading researchers with this annual award since 1976. 8.7 million euros have been invested in medical research by the foundation alone.