The establishment of the ‘Patch Clamp Technique’ has transformed electrophysiology and the study of membrane proteins. The lecture and discussion on these developments will proceed in three steps:
The Past: A discussion of the motivation for developing the technique and the technical problems to be solved, as well as a listing of surprises encountered in its use.
The Present: Dealing with the surprise i) that there are more than 200 genes in our genome, which code for ion channels, ii) that these diverse molecules mediate a large variety of cellular functions, iii) that ion channels are prime targets for pharmaca, and iv) that mutations in ion channels cause a multitude of congenital diseases.
The Future: Challenges/opportunities by ‘all-optical’ techniques and the development of automated patch-clamping for high throughput drug testing and for ‘blind patching’ deep inside tissue.