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Karl Deisseroth

Karl Deisseroth


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Karl Deisseroth is a 2017 NOMIS Awardee and has been the D.H. Chen Professor of Bioengineering and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University (Stanford, US) since 2012. He led the project Discovering the Causal Principles Underlying Brain-Wide Dynamics.

Born in Boston, US, Deisseroth studied biochemical science at Harvard University (Boston) and received a PhD in neuroscience in 1998 and an MD in 2000 from Stanford University. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the McKnight Foundation Scholar Award, the National Academy of Sciences Award and the Breakthrough Prize, the 2017 Fresenius Research Prize (Else Kröner Fresenius Preis für Medizinische Forschung) and the 2018 Kyoto Prize. Deisseroth was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2019.

Deisseroth is widely recognized for developing and implementing an approach to biology called 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. Among other advances in laboratory neuroscience techniques, his research has led to thousands of major discoveries regarding the causal underpinnings of complex behavior. But while optics-based discovery of causal mechanisms in animals has been successful, little work has succeeded in revealing brain-wide patterns and underlying causal principles in humans. His project, Discovering the Causal Principles Underlying Brain-wide Dynamics, is investigating the causal principles underlying brain-wide dynamics, which will adapt and combine new technologies developed in the Deisseroth lab.

Karl Deisseroth | Awards Film

Karl Deisseroth | Insights Film

Karl Deisseroth's News

The NOMIS Distinguished Scientist and Scholar Award is the topic of a recently published advertorial in Science. The 2023 NOMIS Awardees, Anne Brunet and David Autor, explain how the NOMIS […]

NOMIS Awardee Karl Deisseroth and colleagues have found that when they increased heart rates in mice, the animals showed more anxious behavior. Their research was published in Nature. Using pulses […]

NOMIS Awardee Karl Deisseroth has been awarded the 2023 Japan Prize in the field of life sciences. The Japan Prize Foundation announced the winners of the 2023 Japan Prize on […]

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 […]

Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger published an article about NOMIS Distinguished Scientist awardee Karl Deisseroth. Titled “The cerebral man” (translated from the original German “Der Kopfmensch”), the article details Deisseroth’s significant […]

Karl Deisseroth, Tony Wyss-Coray and Svante Pääbo Recognizing not only scientific excellence, but also celebrating researchers who push for unconventional paths and show exceptional engagement in insight-driven research and collaboration, […]

NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Award 2017

Karl Deisseroth's Insights

Abstract: Emotional states influence bodily physiology, as exemplified in the top-down process by which anxiety causes faster beating of the heart1–3. However, whether an increased heart rate might itself induce anxiety or fear responses is unclear3–8. Physiological theories of emotion, proposed over a century ago, have considered that in general, there
Abstract: Learning has been associated with modifications of synaptic and circuit properties, but the precise changes storing information in mammals have remained largely unclear. We combined genetically targeted voltage imaging with targeted optogenetic activation and silencing of pre- and post-synaptic neurons to study the mechanisms underlying hippocampal behavioral timescale plasticity. In

We estimate that 208,000 deep brain stimulation (DBS) devices have been implanted to address neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders worldwide. DBS Think Tank presenters pooled data and determined that DBS expanded […]


Channelrhodopsins are light-gated ion channels that, via regulation of flagellar function, enable single-celled motile algae to seek ambient light conditions suitable for photosynthesis and survival. These plant behavioral responses were […]