Optogenetics pioneer Karl Deisseroth to win prestigious FNIH award

Karl Deisseroth, MD, Ph.D., whose pioneering work in optogenetics and the tissue transparentizing method CLARITY has transformed cell imaging, will receive the Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences from the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH).

Feb 10th, 2015

Karl Deisseroth, MD, Ph.D., whose pioneering work in optogenetics and the tissue transparentizing method CLARITY has transformed cell imaging, will receive the Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences from the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH; Bethesda, MD). He will receive his award on May 20, 2015, in Washington, DC.

Related: The rise of optogenetics

Deisseroth is the D.H. Chen Professor of Bioengineering and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator. He first pioneered the field of optogenetics, which has greatly expanded our understanding of normal behavior as well as of diseases like Parkinson's, schizophrenia, and depression, by combining genetic manipulation and optics to activate or deactivate precisely targeted brain cells. His team also pioneered CLARITY, a chemical engineering method for making biological tissues such as the intact brain fully transparent and accessible, and has already enabled scientists to observe intricate molecular-resolution details within healthy brains as well as brains from Alzheimer's disease and autism patients.

Deisseroth was selected for the award by a jury of six distinguished biomedical researchers, chaired by Dr. Solomon H. Snyder, Director-Emeritus of The Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience at The Johns Hopkins University and Vice Chairman for Science of FNIH.

Endowed by philanthropist and FNIH Board member Ann Lurie, the Lurie Prize recognizes outstanding achievement by a promising scientist age 52 or younger, and includes a $100,000 honorarium. Lurie is president of the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Foundation, which she founded with her late husband, Robert, and the president of Lurie Holdings.

A member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, Deisseroth is a practicing psychiatrist. His work is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and HHMI, and he is a working group member for the NIH BRAIN Initiative, a program announced by President Obama to deepen science's understanding of the human brain.

Previous Lurie Prize winners are Jennifer Doudna, Ph.D., from the University of California Berkeley (2014) and Ruslan M. Medzhitov, Ph.D., of Yale University (2013).

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