07.05.2021 // (05/21)
Neurobiologist Susanne Schreiber, Vice-Chair of the German Ethics Council, appointed as Einstein Professor
The Einstein Foundation will in future be supporting neurobiologist Susanne Schreiber as an Einstein Professor at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. With the help of additional funding from the Einstein Foundation, the university was able to counter an offer from another university, thus ensuring that the expert in theoretical neurophysiology will now remain in Berlin.
Susanne Schreiber has been head of the Computational Neurophysiology research group at the Humboldt-Universität Institute of Biology since 2009, and was appointed Professor of Theoretical Neurophysiology there in 2015. Thanks to financial support from the Einstein Foundation, Schreiber will remain in Berlin to continue her interdisciplinary research into the activity of nerve cells. Schreiber welcomed the decision, saying, “I am looking forward to the interactions in Berlin’s extremely exciting research environment.”
Her research focuses on the highly efficient information processing that takes place at molecular level in the nerve cells. Until now, there has been little research into how and on what scale computational processes inside the cells, such as the way signals are passed on in the form of electric impulses, influence the way the nerve cells interact in networks. Using mathematical methods, Schreiber investigates how neurons process the signals they receive from other nerve cells, and to what extent the molecular properties of a ‘computing’ cell influence larger neuronal networks in the brain.
In addition, her research group is looking into how environmental factors have influenced the evolution of neuronal networks. Using flexible computational and data analysis methods, her team at Humboldt-Universität is modeling various conditions under which cellular computation processes can take place, such as limited energy resources and variable temperatures in the cell environment. The simulation of these circumstances could offer insights into the evolutionary development of the brain.
The biophysics graduate specialized in neurosciences during her final-year diploma thesis, which she completed at the University of Cambridge. After finishing her doctorate, which involved spending time at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in the USA as a Sloan-Swartz Fellow, she won the Bernstein Award for Computational Neuroscience in 2008. This enabled her to set up her own computational neurophysiology lab at Humboldt-Universität. Schreiber has chaired the Bernstein Network for Computational Neuroscience in Germany since 2019. As Vice-Chair of the German Ethics Council she also explores and comments on the social issues and ethical challenges of modern biological research.
The Einstein Foundation Berlin is an independent, not-for-profit, science-led organization established as a foundation under civil law. It promotes international cutting-edge science and research across disciplines and institutions in and for Berlin. To date, it has funded 172 researchers, including three Nobel laureates, 71 projects, and six Einstein Centers. For its role in promoting Berlin as an international center of research it was crowned German Research Foundation of the Year 2021.