In 1972 Neher went to the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Gottingen, and two years later began his collaboration with Sakmann. This collaboration continued despite Neher's move to the University of Washington in Seattle and, later, to Yale University. Neher and Sakmann presented their patch-clamp findings at a scientific gathering in 1976.
The membrane of a cell contains numerous porelike channels that control the passage of ions, or charged atoms, into and out of the cell. Neher and Sakmann used a thin glass pipette, one-thousandth of a millimetre in diameter, that was fitted with an electrode to detect the flow of individual ions through the ion channels of a cell membrane. The technique was used to study a broad range of cell functions.
Neher returned to the Max Planck Institute in Gottingen that same year
and in 1983 was made director of the institute's membrane biophysics
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