Bert Sakmann

Hans Fischer Senior Fellow

Max Planck Society

Max-Planck-Institute of Neurobiology

Arthur Konnerth

Focus Group

Short CV

Born in Stuttgart, Bert Sakmann completed the Wagenburg gymnasium in Stuttgart in 1961. He studied medicine from 1967 onwards in Tübingen, Freiburg, Berlin, Paris and Munich. After completing his medical exams at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, he became a medical assistant in 1968 at Munich University, while also working as a scientific assistant at Munich's Max-Planck-Institute (MPI) for Psychiatry in the Neurophysiology Department under Otto Detlev Creutzfeldt. In 1971 he moved to University College London, where he worked in the Department of Biophysics. In 1974 he completed his medical dissertation, under the title “Electrophysiology of Neural Light Adaption in the Cat Retina” in the Medical Faculty of Göttingen University. Afterwards Sakmann returned to the lab of Otto Creutzfeldt, who had meanwhile moved to the MPI for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen. Sakmann joined the membrane biology group there in 1979. From 1974 to 1989, Sakmann was a researcher at the MPI for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, where he shared a laboratory with Erwin Neher. Sakmann served as head of the Membrane Physiology Unit at Göttingen from 1983 to 1985. He established a new Department of Cell Physiology there in 1985 and headed it until 1988. In 1989, Sakmann left the MPI in Göttingen to become director of the Department of Cell Physiology at the MPI for Medical Research in Heidelberg. In 1990, he took an additional position as professor at the University of Heidelberg. Since 2008 Sakmann leads an emeritus research group at the MPI for Neurobiology in Martinsried. Furthermore he is the Inaugural scientific director and research group leader at the Max Planck Florida Institute.

Selected Awards

  • 1994, Member Royal Society of the United Kingdom
  • 1993, Member National Academy of Sciences of the United States
  • 1991, Harvey Prize of the Technion
  • 1991, Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine; together with Erwin Neher for their work on "the function of single ion channels in cells"
  • 1989, International Gairdner Award
  • 1987, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, German Research Foundation
  • 1986, Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize, Columbia University
  • 1983, Spencer Award, Columbia University
  • 1982, Magnes Award, Hebrew University
  • 1979, Feldberg Foundation Prize from the United Kingdom
  • 1977, Nernst Prize, German Bunsen Society for Physical Chemistry

Research Interests

Sakmann’s research interests are in neurobiology, where he has focused on the molecular basis of long-term changes in synaptic transmission at the neuromuscular junction and the establishment of structure-function relationships of synaptic membrane channels, especially the acetylcholine receptor channel.

Selected Publications

  • Bollmann, Johann H; Sakmann, Bert: Control of synaptic strength and timing by the release-site Ca2+ signal. Nature Neuroscience, 2005.
  • Silver, R. A.: High-Probability Uniquantal Transmission at Excitatory Synapses in Barrel Cortex. Science 302 (5652), 2003, 1981-1984.
  • Brecht, Michael; Roth, Arnd; Sakmann, Bert: Dynamic Receptive Fields of Reconstructed Pyramidal Cells in Layers 3 and 2 of Rat Somatosensory Barrel Cortex. The Journal of Physiology 553 (1), 2003, 243-265.
  • Meinrenken, C. J; Borst, J G. G; Sakmann, B.: Local routes revisited: the space and time dependence of the Ca2+ signal for phasic transmitter release at the rat calyx of Held. The Journal of Physiology 547 (3), 2003, 665-689.
  • Margrie, Troy; Brecht, Michael; Sakmann, Bert: In vivo, low-resistance, whole-cell recordings from neurons in the anaesthetized and awake mammalian brain. Pflügers Archiv European Journal of Physiology 444 (4), 2002, 491-498.

Publications as TUM-IAS-Fellow


  • Oberlaender, M.; de Kock, C. P. J.; Bruno, R. M.; Ramirez, A.; Meyer, H. S.; Dercksen, V. J.; Helmstaedter, M.; Sakmann, B.: Cell Type-Specific Three-Dimensional Structure of Thalamocortical Circuits in a Column of Rat Vibrissal Cortex. Cerebral Cortex 22 (10), 2011, 2375-2391 mehr… BibTeX Volltext ( DOI )
  • Varga, Z.; Jia, H.; Sakmann, B.; Konnerth, A.: Dendritic coding of multiple sensory inputs in single cortical neurons in vivo. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108 (37), 2011, 15420-15425 mehr… BibTeX Volltext ( DOI )