Though still early in his career, Karl Deisseroth's name is already among whispers for the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. His two new techniques, Optogenetics and CLARITY, have revolutionized the way scientists can study the brain.
Deisseroth will visit the University of Nevada, Reno campus to give a free public lecture in the Davidson Mathematics and Science Center's Redfield Auditorium at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 23. Support for his visit was provided by the university's Center for Integrative Neuroscience along with the local chapter of the Society for Neuroscience and the Department of Biology.
"The University of Nevada has a dynamic and rapidly expanding neuroscience community, and we wanted to bring a speaker who could best illustrate the excitement and potential of the field," Heather Goulding, program manager of the Center said.
Deisseroth, who is coming from Stanford University, was dubbed "Method Man" by Nature journal for two of his groundbreaking techniques. Optogenetics gives scientists the ability to turn neural activity on and off with light-driven switches. CLARITY turns a brain into a clear Jell-o like structure with all neurons intact, giving scientists an unprecedented view of the brain's molecules and cells. These tools allow neuroscientists to address fundamental questions about dynamic changes in brain structure and function. Deisseroth's research group applies his new strategies to better understand diseases, disorders like autism, and how the brain responds to learning, injury and seizures. The techniques have already spread to laboratories throughout the world.
The University of Nevada, Reno is seeing rapid growth in neuroscience research and education. The undergraduate degree in neuroscience currently has 300 majors and is one of the fasting growing majors on campus, and plans are underway to bring an interdisciplinary graduate program in neuroscience.
Neuroscience research on campus received a big boost with the award of a $10 million competitive National Institutes of Health grant in 2012 to establish the Integrative Neuroscience Center of Biomedical Research and Excellence (COBRE). The Center, directed by Michael Webster in the Department of Psychology, brought together neuroscience researchers from many units at the University including psychology, biology, biomedical engineering and the School of Medicine. The program provides funding for promising junior researchers in these areas and is designed to build resources and faculty to allow the University to become a leading force in important areas of biomedical science.
Deisseroth serves on President Obama's BRAIN Initiative advisory committee and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He is also the recipient of dozens of prestigious national and international science awards.
For more information about neuroscience or the lecture, call 775-682-8695 or visit unr.edu/neuroscience.