Prof. Sonja Hofer was born in Munich in 1977. She studied biology at the Technical University of Munich and completed a PhD in 2006 at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried (Germany). In 2011 she set up her own research group at University College London and has been an assistant professor at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel since 2013. She studies the development and detailed organisation of the visual system, particularly the way in which sensory information is processed and stored in the neuronal networks of the cerebrum. Through her research, she has discovered fundamental principles governing the ways in which nerve cells are connected in local networks, and was able to demonstrate that structural changes in cerebral networks can be used for long-term storage of information.
She has received a number of prizes for her scientific research, including the Otto Hahn Medal awarded by the Max Planck Society, and the Wellcome Beit Prize awarded by the Wellcome Trust.
The Eric Kandel Young Neuroscientists Prize 2013 was presented to Prof. Hofer during an official ceremony on 27 September 2013 in St. Paul’s Church in Frankfurt am Main by Prof. Eric Kandel, the neuroscientist and Nobel Prize winner, Prof. Marian Joëls, the President of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies, and Dr John Feldmann, Chairman of the Hertie Foundation. The presentation of the Hertie Senior Research Professorship in Neuroscience 2013 was presented at the same event.
Following the awards there was a panel discussion on “The creative human: Art and science in conversation”, involving Prof. Eric Kandel, Herlinde Koelbl, the art photographer and film maker, and painter Prof. Markus Lüpertz (the discussion was moderated by Gert Scobel, ZDF/3sat journalist).