Karl Deisseroth has been awarded the 2018 Kyoto Prize in the category of Advanced Technology for the discovery of optogenetics and development of causal systems neuroscience. He developed an biological approach known as optogenetics, a technique that involves the use of light to control cells in living tissue, typically neurons, that have been genetically modified to express light-sensitive ion channels. This achievement has revolutionized the field of systems neuroscience, enabling causal study of neuronal assembly activity and resulting function, beyond correlational studies.
At 46 years old, Deisseroth is the youngest laureate in the history of the Kyoto Prize, which dates back to 1985. The prize is awarded annually, honoring those who have contributed significantly to the scientific, cultural and spiritual betterment of mankind. The prize is awarded in three categories: Advanced Technology, Basic Sciences, and Arts and Philosophy. The Kyoto Prize presentation ceremony will be held in Kyoto, Japan on November 10.
Deisseroth is the D.H. Chen Professor of Bioengineering and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, California, and the recipient of the 2017 NOMIS Distinguished Scientist and Scholar Award.