Karl Deisseroth awarded 2018 Kyoto Prize

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.

Svante Pääbo receives the 2018 Princess of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific and Research

Svante Pääbo has been granted the 2018 Princess of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific and Research for having developed precise methods to study ancient DNA that have permitted the recovery and analysis of the genome of species that disappeared hundreds of thousands of years ago.

Pääbo, recipient of the NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Award and director of the Department of Evolutionary Genetics at the Max Planck Institute, is one of the founders of paleogenetics and became best known for his pioneering research on the Neandertal genome. His work has enabled a better understanding of the recent evolution of numerous species, including humans. By sequencing of the Neanderthal genome, he discovered that genes from these and other extinct humans form part of the genetic pool of humanity. According to the Princess of Asturias Foundation jury,

“His discoveries force us to rewrite the history of our species.”

The Princess of Asturias Foundation convenes the Princess of Asturias Awards, which are presented at an academic ceremony held each year in Oviedo, capital of the Principality of Asturias. The Foundation’s aims are to contribute to extolling and promoting those scientific, cultural and humanistic values that form part of the universal heritage of humanity and to consolidate the existing links between the Principality of Asturias and the title traditionally held by the heirs to the Crown of Spain.

SRF: “The fight against forgetting”

NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Tony Wyss-Coray appeared on the Swiss television program, Einstein, which aired on Feb. 15, 2018. The story, “Kampf gegen das Vergessen” (“The fight against forgetting”), addresses the crippling effects of Alzheimer’s disease and highlights Wyss-Coray’s promising research in this direction. Professor of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford University, Wyss-Coray’s groundbreaking findings suggest that the plasma in our blood directly influences aging. His most recent studies have shown that circulatory factors can modulate neurogenesis, neuroimmunity and cognitive function in mice and that blood-derived factors from young mice or humans can rejuvenate the aging mouse brain.

NOMIS is supporting Wyss-Coray’s continued research into identifying the circulatory factors that influence aging and using those factors to rejuvenate the aging or degenerated brain.

Einstein is a weekly Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF) newsmagazine.

Aeon: “‘Let the soul dangle’: how mind-wandering spurs creativity”

In a recent article by Julia Christensen, Guido Giglioni and NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Manos Tsakiris, published in Aeon, the authors suggest that “reverie might help to prime us to think both productively and creatively by somehow cementing our sense of self, drawing body and mind together in a train of thought and biological action.” The authors identify art as a catalyst for letting the mind wander, which in turn induces reflections and emotions and affects the body’s physiology.

Tsakiris is leading the Body and Image in Arts and Sciences (BIAS) project at the Warburg Institute, School of Advanced Study, University of London. BIAS is supported by the NOMIS Foundation.

NZZ: “On the trail of the fountain of youth”

Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) has published an article about the groundbreaking research of NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Tony Wyss-Coray, professor of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford University. Wyss-Coray’s research has shown that circulatory factors can modulate neurogenesis, neuroimmunity and cognitive function in mice and that blood-derived factors from young mice or humans can rejuvenate the aging mouse brain.

The article (“Der Verjüngungskur auf der Spur”) was published on Dec. 1, 2017 in NZZ.

NOMIS is supporting Wyss-Coray’s continued research into identifying the circulatory factors that influence aging and using those factors to rejuvenate the aging or degenerated brain.

Tages Anzeiger: “The cerebral man”

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 contributions to the study of the human brain. Deisseroth developed optogenetics, a technique that uses light to manipulate cells in the brain, and CLARITY, a technique that enables researchers to see the protein and nucleic acid structures inside the intact brain.