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February 01, 2010

Ninth Annual Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences Awarded to Dr. Peter Hegemann, Dr. Georg Nagel, and Dr. Ernst Bamberg

Hoboken, N.J.

Deborah E. Wiley, Chairman of The Wiley Foundation and Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (NYSE: JWa & JWb), announced today that the ninth annual Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences will be awarded to Dr. Peter Hegemann, Professor of Molecular Biophysics, Humboldt University, Berlin; Dr. Georg Nagel, Professor of Molecular Plant Physiology, Department of Botany, University of Wuerzburg; and Dr. Ernst Bamberg, Professor and Director of the Dept of Biophysical Chemistry, Max-Planck Institute of Biophysics, Frankfurt, Germany. 

“The Wiley Prize is being awarded to Dr. Hegemann, Dr. Nagel, and Dr. Bamberg for their discovery of a light activated ion channel," said Dr. Günter Blobel, Chairman of the awards jury for the Wiley Prize. “The use of channelrhodopsins has revolutionized the study of networks in the brain.”

Dr. Hegemann, Dr. Nagel, and Dr. Bamberg were selected for their discovery of channelrhodopsins, a family of light-activated ion channels. The channelrhodopsin proteins ChR1 and ChR2 were originally isolated from the single-celled green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, where they were found to be involved in the process of phototaxis, i.e. movement towards or away from light. However, channelrhodopsins can also be inserted into other excitable cells such as neurons, allowing for the study of neural networks using light stimulation in cell culture as well as in living animals with up to now unknown temporal and spatial resolution. The discovery has greatly enlarged and strengthened the new field of optogenetics. Channelrhodopsins also provide a high potential for biomedical applications such as the recovery of vision and optical deep brain stimulation for treatment of Parkinson’s and other diseases, instead of the more invasive electrode-based treatments.

The Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences recognizes contributions that have opened new fields of research or have advanced novel concepts or their applications in a particular biomedical discipline. It honors a specific contribution or a series of contributions that demonstrate significant leadership and innovation. The award will be presented to Dr. Hegemann, Dr. Nagel, and Dr. Bamberg on April 9 at The Rockefeller University, New York City.

Dr. Blobel, a John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Professor of Cell Biology at The Rockefeller University, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1999. The Wiley Prize awards jury also includes Dr. Qais Al-Awqati, a physiologist at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. David J. Anderson, a developmental neurobiologist at the California Institute of Technology, Dr. Joan A. Steitz, a molecular biologist at Yale University, and Dr. H. Robert Horvitz, a biologist at MIT and recipient of the 2002 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

Last year’s Wiley Prize recipient was Dr. Bonnie Bassler of the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, who was chosen for pioneering investigations of quorum sensing, a mechanism that allows bacteria to “talk” to each other to coordinate their behavior.

Among the many distinguished past recipients of the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences, five have also been awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn and Dr. Carol Greider, recipients of the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences in 2006, received the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase. Dr. Andrew Z. Fire and Dr. Craig C. Mello, co-recipients of the Wiley Prize in 2003, received the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of RNA interference—gene silencing by double-stranded RNA. Dr. H. Robert Horvitz, a co-recipient of the first Wiley Prize in 2002, shared the 2002 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his respective work on how genes regulate organ development and cell death.

The Wiley Foundation and the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences were established in 2001 to acknowledge the contributions of the scholarly community to the Company's corporate success. Through this award Wiley seeks to recognize and foster ongoing excellence in scientific achievement and discovery.

About Wiley

Founded in 1807, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. has been a valued source of information and understanding for more than 200 years, helping people around the world meet their needs and fulfill their aspirations. Wiley and its acquired companies have published the works of more than 400 Nobel laureates in all categories: Literature, Economics, Physiology or Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, and Peace.

Our core businesses publish scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly journals, encyclopedias, books, and online products and services; professional/trade books, subscription products, training materials, and online applications and Web sites; and educational materials for undergraduate and graduate students and lifelong learners. Wiley's global headquarters are located in Hoboken, New Jersey, with operations in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Canada, and Australia. The Company's Web site can be accessed at http://www.wiley.com. The Company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbols JWa and JWb.