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Max Planck Institute
Company: Max Planck Institute
Title: Research Group Leader
Location: Munich, Germany
Fields of operation: Life & Health, Science
Moritz Helmstaedter is a neuroscientist dedicated to mapping connectomes: the complex networks of nerve cells in the brain. A medical doctor and physicist by training, Moritz completed his doctoral thesis with Nobel laureate Bert Sakmann at the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg, Germany. During his post-doctoral work, together with Winfried Denk and Kevin Briggman, he developed methods to map nerve cell networks using electron microscopes and computer analysis tools. This is making it possible for the first time to decipher large complex networks in the brain at single-cell resolution. He is currently heading the “Structure of Neocortical Circuits Group” at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Munich, where he aims to understand the computations in sensory cortex, and to unravel what distinguishes a human brain from, say, that of a mouse, at the structural level. Moritz has pioneered crowd sourcing for connectomics, engaging several hundred undergraduates to work together to analyze neuronal networks. He is now collaborating with game developers to build mobile and browser games, aiming at motivating thousands of curious minds to solve the task of reconstructing the powerful and fascinating neuronal networks of the brain online.