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Deisseroth, Miesenböck, Boyden win award for optogenetics advances

BioPhotonics
Jul 2013
Professors Karl Deisseroth of Stanford University, Gero Miesenböck of the University of Oxford and Edward S. Boyden of MIT have been awarded Brandeis University’s 16th annual Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award in Biotechnology and Medicine.

The researchers were honored for their contributions to the discovery and applications of optogenetics. Hundreds of labs have started using the technique to manipulate brain activity in experimental animals, exploring the neurobiology of phenomena such as decision making and neurodegenerative diseases. The technique is expected to have a significant impact on President Obama’s brain initiative.

The award was created by the Jacob and Louise Gabbay Foundation and is given in recognition of scientists in academia, medicine or industry whose work has outstanding scientific content and significant practical consequences in the biomedical sciences. “The history of science suggests that most scientific revolutions are sparked by advances in practical areas, such as instrumentation and techniques,” the foundation said in a statement. “This year’s honorees exemplify the spirit of this award in that their laboratory observations have led to significant practical consequences.”

The award consists of a $15,000 cash prize (to be shared in the case of multiple winners) and a medallion.

This year’s symposium will take place Thursday, Oct. 10, at 3:30 p.m. in the Shapiro Campus Center theater at Brandeis in Boston. The talks are free and open to the public.

For more information, visit: http://www.rose.brandeis.edu/Center/gabbay_award.html.


GLOSSARY
optogenetics
A discipline that combines optics and genetics to enable the use of light to stimulate and control cells in living tissue, typically neurons, which have been genetically modified to respond to light. Only the cells that have been modified to include light-sensitive proteins will be under control of the light. The ability to selectively target cells gives researchers precise control. Using light to control the excitation, inhibition and signaling pathways of specific cells or groups of cells...
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