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The neuroscientist Karl Deisseroth, professor at Stanford University and member of the Leopoldina, has won the Breakthrough Prize in life sciences 2016. He is honoured for his contributions to the field of optogenetics. The Breakthrough Prize with a prize money of $3 million was presented in a ceremony on 10 November in Mountain View, California.
Karl Deisseroth is one of the founders of optogenetics, a technique combining optical technology and genetics. It uses light to control the behaviour of cells. Being applied particularly for the study of nerve cells, it allows detailed insights into the brain.
Deisseroth studied biochemistry at Harvard University and earned an M.D. from Stanford University Medical School as well as a Ph.D. from Stanford University. Since 2004, he is pursuing his research in Stanford where he has been D.H. Chen Professor of bioengineering, psychiatry and behavioural sciences since 2012. Since 2014, he also is an investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Maryland. Karl Deisseroth has been elected member of the Leopoldina in the section neurosciences in 2014.
The Breakthrough Prizes were initiated in 2013 by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. The prizes are awarded annually in the fields of Fundamental Physics, Life Sciences and Mathematics. The prize money adds up to $22 million.