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Otto-Hahn-Medal of the Max Planck Society awarded to Mantas Gabrielaitis for his work on biological data streaming

Mantas Gabrielaitis receives the Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck society for his doctoral dissertation at the Max Planck Institute of Dynamics and Self-Organization (MPIDS) and the Bernstein Center Göttingen.

The medal was awarded at the 68th Annual Meeting of the Max Planck Society in Weimar for “his groundbreaking analysis of information encoding by single ion channels in the inner ear and of its extraordinary energy efficiency”. Gabrielaitis prepared his dissertation in the group of Professor Fred Wolf.

Highly efficient data transmission through single ion channels in the inner ear

Information about the world of sounds enters our brains through auditory nerve fibers, each activated by release of tiny packages of neurotransmitter at separate synapses of sensory hair cells in the inner ear. This process is orchestrated by a biomolecular machinery which, due to its minute size, is highly sensitive to the smallest changes in the environment, and thus, intrinsically noisy. In fact, evidence accumulating over the past decade has suggested that single presynaptic calcium ion channels, i.e., individual protein molecules, control information transmission to each of the auditory nerve fibers. These findings seemingly clash with a well-established fact that, among all human senses, hearing is unique in its ultra-high temporal precision, important to a proper hearing function. How is this possible?

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