Data Science for Vision Research. Heisenberg professorship for Bernstein researcher Philipp Berens

Tübingen/ Freiburg, April 24, 2018

On April 16, Philipp Berens was appointed Heisenberg Professor of „Data Science for Vision Research“ at the Institute for Ophthalmic Research at the University of Tübingen. His professorship strengthens the visual neuroscience in ophthalmology at Tübingen, which enjoys international renown; it also builds on the close link between machine learning and neuroscience.

With his Heisenberg professorship, Berens plans to build a bridge between basic research in computational neuroscience and clinical research, right through to diagnostics. He will continue his work on algorithms and computer models to better understand the functional and biophysical properties of different retinal cell types in collaboration with experimental partners. In addition, his research group uses computer models to investigate the effects of the degeneration of photoreceptors in the retinal network. This can help to better understand retinal diseases or contribute to the further development of neuroprosthesis for the retina.

In addition to his qualifications as an internationally well-connected researcher, Philipp Berens appreciates the excellent research environment in Tübingen: „Through the Heisenberg professorship, I can establish data science as a sustainable bridge between basic research and clinical application.”

His decision to remain in Tübingen was guided by three factors: the strength of neuroscience research and ophthalmology in Tübingen, which enjoys international renown, the research structures in computational neuroscience, which have long been established by the Bernstein Centre for Computational Neuroscience Tübingen, and the university’s focus in the field of machine learning. For the interdisciplinary researcher, these are decisive factors for Tübingen as a research location.

Heisenberg Professorship

The Heisenberg Professorship is a program funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) which allows young researchers to establish a professorship with their research focus at a university of their choice.

Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience BCCN Tübingen

The Bernstein Centre (BCCN) Tübingen was founded in 2010 under the direction of Professor Matthias Bethge with the support of BMBF funding. It is a collaboration between the University of Tübingen and the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics. The research at the Bernstein Center Tübingen is focused on sensory perception. „Perceptual inference“, the ability of the brain to combine sensory information and previous knowledge into a conclusive perception of our environment, is one of the brain’s most important achievements. Researchers at the BCCN Tübingen investigate these with methods of machine learning and artificial intelligence in combination with approaches from experimental neurosciences.

Since 2017, interdisciplinary computational neuroscience in Tübingen is further supported by the Collaborative Research Centre 1233 „Robustness of Vision“ of the German Research Foundation, which is also based on the topic of perceptual inference. More than twenty research groups, mainly from the University of Tübingen and the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, are working together to better understand the principles and algorithms that enable „robust vision“ in biological and artificial systems.

Bernstein Network Computational Neuroscience

The Bernstein Network is a research network in the field of computational neuroscience; this field brings together experimental approaches in neurobiology with theoretical models and computer simulations. The network started in 2004 with a funding initiative of the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) to develop and interconnect regional research structures in computational neuroscience throughout Germany and to promote the transfer of theoretical insight into clinical and technical applications. In this context, computational neuroscience joins experimental approaches in neurobiology with theoretical models and computer simulations.
The network is named after the German physiologist and biophysicist Julius Bernstein (1839-1917). After more than 10 years of funding by the Federal Ministry, the Bernstein Network consists of more than 200 research groups.

Prof. Dr. Philipp Berens
University of Tübingen
Institute for Ophthalmic Research
AG Data Science for Vision Research
phone: +49-7071-2988833

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