"Grand Prize 2020" winner Prof. Dr. Tobias Moser, Institute for Auditory Neuroscience, UMG, Cluster of Excellence MBExC, CRC889. Photo: umg/spförtner.

Highly awarded “Scientific Grand prize” of the Fondation Pour l’Audition for Göttingen hearing researcher

Prof. Dr. Tobias Moser receives high distinction from French Fondation Pour l’Audition: “Scientific Grand Prize” 2020 honours his pioneering work on the optical cochlear implant for the treatment of hearing loss. The prize is endowed with 100,000 euros.

(mbexc/umg) ) Prof. Dr. Tobias Moser, Director of the Institute for Auditory Neuroscience at the Universiy Medical Center Göttingen (UMG), has been awarded the “Grand Prize 2020” of the French Fondation Pour l’Audition (FPA) for his revolutionary contributions to hearing research. With this award, the FPA honours his pioneering work in the development of the optical cochlear implant, which gives hundreds of thousands of people worldwide who suffer from deafness and impaired hearing the hope of a significantly improved sense of hearing. The “Grand Science Prize” of the Fondation Pour l’Audition is endowed with 100,000 euros and was awarded on 18 November 2020 during a virtual ceremony.

The Göttingen neuroscientist and physician Tobias Moser is active in a number of networks on the Göttingen Campus. Moser is spokesperson of the Cluster of Excellence “Multiscale Bioimaging: From Molecular Machines to Networks of Excitable Cells” (MBExC) and the Collaborative Research Center 889 “Cellular Mechanisms of Sensory Processing”. In addition to the Institute for Auditory Neuroscience at the UMG, Prof. Moser also heads Max Planck Fellow research groups at the Max Planck Institutes for Biophysical Chemistry (MPI-BPC) and of Experimental Medicine (MPI-EM) in Göttingen, and works as Adjunct Professor at the German Primate Center (DPZ), Leibniz Institute for Primate Research.

The foundations for the development of the optical cochlear implant were laid by Prof. Moser’s groundbreaking findings on the physiology and anatomy of hair cells synapses and their dysfunction in diseases of the inner ear. Using an innovative combination of modern gene therapy and optogenetic techniques, Tobias Moser and his co-operative scientists have succeeded in stimulating the auditory nerve with light impulses in an animal model. Channel rhodopsins, which were previously introduced and incorporated into auditory nerve membranes by gene transfer via viruses, serve as molecular light switches. These can be activated with the help of weak light pulses and thus imitate the function of the hair cells that are often lost in deafness. The method enables a much higher spatial precision than the current excitation via electrodes used in the current cochlear implant. With this novel approach, Prof. Moser has taken hearing research a big step forward towards the development of optical cochlear implants for humans. “Hearing with light” could enable future users to distinguish more precisely between pitches, and thus help to better understand speech in noisy environments and to enjoy music to a greater extent. Prof. Tobias Moser already has received several awards for his scientific contributions in the field of hearing research, most recently the Leibniz Prize 2015, the Ernst Jung Prize 2017, and the Guyot Prize 2019.

Prof. Dr. Tobias Moser was born in Görlitz in 1968. He completed his medical studies in Leipzig and Jena/Erfurt with a doctorate in medicine in 1995. From 1994 to 1997 he worked as a post-doctoral fellow under Nobel Prize winner Prof. Dr. Erwin Neher at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen. There, he was head of a junior research group from 1997 to 2001. At the same time, he completed a specialist training course in ear, nose and throat medicine at the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at the University Medical Center Göttingen. In 2003, he habilitated and was appointed W2 professor in 2005, and finally became a W3 professor for auditory neuroscience at the UMG Department of Otorhinolaryngology in 2007. Since 2015 he has been director of the Institute for Auditorial Neuroscience at the UMG. Tobias Moser is married and has three children.

The “Scientific Grand Prize” is awarded annually by the French Foundation Pour l’Audition (FPA) to honour excellent scientists and doctors whose work presents a major breakthroughs in hearing science. The FPA was established to raise public awareness of hearing health, promote sciencific progress and provide new solutions for the treatment of hearing disorders.


about the Fondation Pour l’Audition
about the Institute for Auditory Neuroscience
about the CRC889

Please click here to watch the video of the Scientific Grand Prize lecture 2020 of Tobias Moser and click here for the video portrait of Tobias Moser.


University Medical Center Göttingen, Georg-August-University
Institute for Auditory Neuroscience and InnerEarLab
Cluster of Excellence Multiscale Bioimaging (MBExC)
CRC 889
Prof. Dr. Tobias Moser
Phone +49 (0)551 / 39-63071

Please find the pdf of the press release in English here
and the press release in German here.