Karl Deisseroth

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Karl Deisseroth
Born (1971-11-18) November 18, 1971 (age 46)
Nationality American
Alma mater Harvard University, Stanford University
Known for Optogenetics, CLARITY
Awards Golden Brain Award (2009)
Richard Lounsbery Award (2013)
Dickson Prize in Science (2013)
Keio Medical Science Prize (2014)
Albany Medical Center Prize (2015)
BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award (2015)
Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (2016)
Scientific career
Fields Neuroscience, Psychiatry, Bioengineering
Institutions Stanford University, Karolinska Institutet

Karl Deisseroth (born 18 November 1971) is the D. H. Chen Professor of Bioengineering and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. He earned his AB in biochemical sciences from Harvard University and his MD/PhD in neuroscience from Stanford University in 1998, and completed medical internship and psychiatry residency at Stanford Medical School. He is known for creating and developing the technologies of CLARITY and optogenetics, and for applying integrated optical and genetic strategies to study normal neural circuit function as well as dysfunction in neurological and psychiatric disease. He has led his laboratory at Stanford University since 2004, serves as an attending physician at Stanford Hospital and Clinics, and has been affiliated with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) since 2009.[1][2] Since 2014 he is a foreign Adjunct Professor at Sweden's prestigious Karolinska medical institute.


In 2005 Deisseroth's laboratory, including graduate students Edward Boyden and Feng Zhang, published the first demonstration of the use of microbial opsin genes to achieve optogenetic control of neurons, allowing reliable control of action potentials with light at millisecond precision.[3] Deisseroth named this field "optogenetics" in 2006 and followed up with optogenetic technology development work, leading to many applications including to psychiatry and neurology. In 2010, the journal Nature Methods named optogenetics "Method of the Year".[4] In 2013, Deisseroth was senior author of a paper on a new technology named CLARITY, with first author postdoctoral fellow in his lab Kwanghun Chung, which makes biological tissues such as mammalian brains translucent and accessible to molecular probes.[5][6]

On November 29, 2015, he was awarded the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.[7]

He has received the 2015 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Biomedicine, jointly with Edward Boyden and Gero Miesenböck, for the development of optogenetics, the most precise technique for studying the brain today.

Honors and awards[edit]

Deisseroth is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, and the National Academy of Sciences. Deisseroth is also a Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Scientific Council Member and NARSAD Grantee.


  1. ^ "Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD". HHMI.org. Retrieved 2016-03-01.
  2. ^ Smith, Kerri (29 May 2013). "Neuroscience: Method man". Nature News. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
  3. ^ Boyden ES; Zhang F; Bamberg E; Nagel G; Deisseroth K. (September 2005). "Millisecond-timescale, genetically targeted optical control of neural activity". Nature Neuroscience. 8 (9): 1263–8. doi:10.1038/nn1525. PMID 16116447.
  4. ^ "Method of the Year 2010". Nature Methods. 8 (1): 1–1. 20 December 2010. doi:10.1038/nmeth.f.321.
  5. ^ Brains as Clear as Jell-O for Scientists to Explore, April 10, 2013 The New York Times
  6. ^ Chung, Kwanghun; Wallace, Jenelle; Kim, Sung-Yon; Kalyanasundaram, Sandhiya; Andalman, Aaron S.; Davidson, Thomas J.; Mirzabekov, Julie J.; Zalocusky, Kelly A.; Mattis, Joanna; Denisin, Aleksandra K.; Pak, Sally; Bernstein, Hannah; Ramakrishnan, Charu; Grosenick, Logan; Gradinaru, Viviana; Deisseroth, Karl (10 April 2013). "Structural and molecular interrogation of intact biological systems". Nature. 497 (7449): 332–337. doi:10.1038/nature12107. PMC 4092167. PMID 23575631.
  7. ^ a b "Breakthrough Prize". Breakthrough Prize. Retrieved 2016-03-01.
  8. ^ "34th Annual W. Alden Spencer Award and Lecture". Columbia University. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  9. ^ http://www.brandeis.edu/rosenstiel/gabbayaward/past.html
  10. ^ http://www.thebrainprize.org/flx/prize_winners/prize_winners_2013/
  11. ^ Optogenetics earns Stanford professor Karl Deisseroth the Keio prize in medicine, Stanford, 2014
  12. ^ "Albany Medical College: AlbanyPrize". Amc.edu. 2015-08-14. Retrieved 2016-03-01.
  13. ^ "LURIE PRIZE OVERVIEW". Foundation for the National Institutes of Health. Archived from the original on 1 September 2015. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  14. ^ Harvey Prize 2016

External links[edit]