Optogenetics + CLARITY to understand, treat mental illness, addiction

Allen Institute President Christof Koch  “likens (Professor Karl) Deisseroth to Galileo, whose early improvements of the telescope afforded a huge advance in our understanding of the cosmos.” (New Yorker profile, 2015)

Professor Deissoroth will discuss his pioneering methods of understanding and treating the brain at ApplySci’s Digital Health + NeuroTech Silicon Valley conference, on February 7-8, 2017.

Deisseroth created optogenetics — in which neurons in the brain are genetically engineered to express a light-sensitive protein that can change their electric properties. Light can then be used to switch neurons on or off, allowing the mapping of neuronal networks that regulate behaviour and that are often disrupted in mental illness.

He also developed CLARITY (Clear Lipid-exchanged Anatomically Rigid Imaging/Immunostaining-compatible Tissue hYdrogel), a technique  that makes tissues transparent but leaves cells and their connections intact. This allows an unprecedented view into complex brain circuits, and could be used for a new type of depression treatment, or  to understand electrical pathways in the heart or learn why damaged fibers in the spinal cord cause pain.

Deisseroth recently combined CLARITY with optogenetics, demonstrating how certain neurons in the prefrontal cortex are built to respond to reward or aversion,  which could lead to more effective treatments for mental illness and addiction.


ApplySci’s 6th   Wearable Tech + Digital Health + NeuroTech Silicon Valley  –  February 7-8 2017 @ Stanford   |   Featuring:   Vinod Khosla – Tom Insel – Zhenan Bao – Phillip Alvelda – Nathan Intrator – John Rogers – Mary Lou Jepsen – Vivek Wadhwa – Miguel Nicolelis – Roozbeh Ghaffari –Tarun Wadhwa – Eythor Bender – Unity Stoakes – Mounir Zok – Krishna Shenoy – Karl Deisseroth