Erwin Neher
Erwin Neher in June 2015
Born (1944-03-20) 20 March 1944 (age 80)
Alma mater
Known forpatch clamp
Scientific career
Academic advisorsCharles F. Stevens

Erwin Neher (German pronunciation: [ˈɛʁviːn ˈneːɐ] ; /ˈnər/;[5] born 20 March 1944) is a German biophysicist, specializing in the field of cell physiology. For significant contribution in the field, in 1991 he was awarded, along with Bert Sakmann, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for "their discoveries concerning the function of single ion channels in cells".[6][7][8]

Early life and education

Neher was born in Landsberg am Lech, Upper Bavaria, the son of Elisabeth (née Pfeiffer), a teacher, and Franz Xaver Neher, an executive at a dairy company.[9] He studied physics at the Technical University of Munich from 1963 to 1966.

In 1966, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study in the US. He spent a year at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and earned a master's degree in biophysics. While at the Charles Stevens Laboratory at Yale University for post-doctoral work he met fellow scientist Eva-Maria Neher, whom he married in 1978 and subsequently the couple had five children – Richard, Benjamin, Carola, Sigmund, and Margret.[10]

In 2003 Neher was one of 22 Nobel Laureates who signed the Humanist Manifesto.[11]


In 1986, he was awarded the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University together with Bert Sakmann. In 1987, he received the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, which is the highest honour awarded in German research. Along with Bert Sakmann, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1991 for "their discoveries concerning the function of single ion channels in cells".[12] Neher and Sakmann were the first to record the currents of single ion channels on a live cell (they were first recorded using the lipid bilayer method) through their development of the patch-clamp technique,[13][14][15][16] a project Neher began as a postdoctoral research associate in the laboratory of Charles F. Stevens at Yale.

Since 1983, he became a director at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen and led the Department for Membrane Biophysics. He turned into an emeritus director of the Institute since 2011. He is also a Professor Emeritus at the University of Göttingen and a co-chair of the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Göttingen[when?] .

Honors and awards

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Neher holds honorary degrees from:[17]

Neher was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 1994.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Professor Erwin Neher ForMemRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2015-10-11.
  2. ^ Elektronische Messtechnik in der Physiologie. Berlin, New York, Springer-Verlag, 1974.
  3. ^ Single-channel recording / edited by Bert Sakmann and Erwin Neher. New York: Plenum Press, c1983. ISBN 0-306-41419-8
  4. ^ Single-Channel Recording / edited by Bert Sakmann and Erwin Neher. 2nd ed. New York: Plenum Press, c1995. ISBN 0-306-44870-X
  5. ^ "Neher". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
  6. ^ "Nobel autobiography of Neher".
  7. ^ "Neurotree - Erwin Neher Family Tree".
  8. ^ Dean, Chris. "Erwin Neher - Science Video Interview". Vega Science Trust.
  9. ^ "Erwin Neher – Biographical, The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1991". Nobel Media AB. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  10. ^ Schoenfeld 2006, p. 264.
  11. ^ "Notable Signers". Humanism and Its Aspirations. American Humanist Association. Archived from the original on October 5, 2012. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
  12. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1991". Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  13. ^ Neher E, Sakmann B (March 1992). "The patch clamp technique". Scientific American. 266 (3): 44–51. Bibcode:1992SciAm.266c..44N. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0392-44. PMID 1374932.
  14. ^ Neher E (1992). "[6] Correction for liquid junction potentials in patch clamp experiments". Correction for liquid junction potentials in patch clamp experiments. Methods in Enzymology. Vol. 207. pp. 123–31. doi:10.1016/0076-6879(92)07008-C. ISBN 978-0-12-182108-1. PMID 1528115.
  15. ^ Neher E (September 1988). "The use of the patch clamp technique to study second messenger-mediated cellular events". Neuroscience. 26 (3): 727–34. doi:10.1016/0306-4522(88)90094-2. PMID 2462183. S2CID 45756434.
  16. ^ Neher E, Sakmann B, Steinbach JH (July 1978). "The extracellular patch clamp: a method for resolving currents through individual open channels in biological membranes". Pflügers Archiv. 375 (2): 219–28. doi:10.1007/BF00584247. PMID 567789. S2CID 8035857.
  17. ^ a b "Erwin Neher Biographical". Retrieved 10 March 2021.

Further reading