Professor Bert Sakmann ForMemRS
Bert Sakmann, a cell physiologist, is a leader in the field of cellular and membrane biology. Bert co-discovered the existence of single ion channels, which allow biologically important charged atoms to pass into or out of the cells in our body. He was also responsible for the co-development of a technique that enables scientists to measure the miniscule electrical currents that pass through individual ion channels.
His ‘patch clamp’ technique is now used in laboratories around the world to investigate the many different types of ion channels and their roles. It has had an immeasurable impact on our understanding of membrane channel behaviour, allowing research into their association with a wide range of conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and anxiety disorder.
The importance of his work has been recognised by a great number of awards and honorary degrees, including the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize for Biology or Biochemistry in 1986. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1991, along with colleague Erwin Neher, for their seminal research on single ion channels.