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2019 - Karl Deisseroth

Karl Deisseroth

Karl Deisseroth, M.D., Ph.D.

D.H. Chen Professor of Bioengineering and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

What is the nature of memory? Can we understand fear at a cellular scale?

Through the development of novel techniques, Dr. Karl Deisseroth has revolutionized our understanding of the brain. He manipulates individual neurons---turning them on or off at will, to identify how these cells modulate the activity of neuronal circuits and ultimately impact the flow of information through the brain that results in complex behaviors. This technique, termed optogenetics, has been adopted by scientists around the world to explore circuits altered in conditions such as autism or depression. Dr. Deisseroth has also spearheaded the development of CLARITY, a chemical treatment that turns whole brains transparent, allowing researchers to examine brain structures in three dimensions. Together, these methods have revolutionized the field of neuroscience and have enabled a new generation of experiments that probe the causal roles of specific neural circuit components.

Among his many accolades, in 2017 Dr. Deisseroth was awarded the Fresenius Research Prize (Germany)—the most valuable award for scientific achievement; in 2018 he received the Gairdner Foundation International Award (Canada) and was named the 2018 Kyoto Prize Laureate in Advanced Technology (Japan).