The TNQ Distinguished Lectures in the Life Sciences

Karl Deisseroth

'Illuminating the Brain'

Series I. 6ᵗʰ Edition.
Bengaluru | Chennai | New Delhi

Neuroscientist Karl Deisseroth toured India in January 2016 for Cell Press-TNQ Distinguished Lectureship Series

Stanford University neuroscientist and psychiatrist Karl Deisseroth, who developed methods that have revolutionized our ability to visualize and manipulate brain circuits, gave lectures in Bengaluru, Chennai, and Delhi in January 2016. He was the Featured Speaker of the Sixth Annual Cell Press-TNQ India Distinguished Lectureship Series, aimed at bringing internationally renowned scientists to the Indian scientific community.

Deisseroth pioneered a groundbreaking technique known as 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 in animals, allowing the mapping of neuronal networks that regulate behaviour and that are often disrupted in disorders such as autism or schizophrenia. Since its introduction to the research community in 2005, optogenetics has been used by thousands of labs around the world to understand the neural basis of behaviour.

More recently, Deisseroth developed another important tool that allows high-resolution visualization of brain circuits. Known as CLARITY (Clear Lipid-exchanged Anatomically Rigid Imaging / Immunostaining-compatible Tissue hYdrogel), the technique makes tissues transparent but leaves the cells and their connections intact. This allows an unprecedented view into the complex circuits that make up the brain.

Karl Deisseroth is the D.H. Chen Professor of Bioengineering and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. He graduated summa cum laude in the biochemical sciences from Harvard University and went on to complete his MD and PhD in neurosciences from Stanford University. On completion of his medical internship and psychiatry residency at Stanford Medical School, he started his career as a researcher in the Psychiatry Department at Stanford Medical School.

He is a practising physician at the Stanford Hospital and Clinics and a foreign adjunct professor at Sweden’s Karolinska
Medical Institute.

Deisseroth has led his laboratory at Stanford University since 2004 and has been an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) since 2014. From 2009-2014 he was an HHMI early Career Scientist.

Awards & Honors


NIH Director's Pioneer Award


McKnight Scholar Award


Lecturer, World Economic Forum


HFSP Nakasone Award


Member, Institute of Medicine (IOM)


W. Alden Spencer Award, Columbia University


Member, National Academy of Sciences (US)


Richard Lounsbery Award from the US National Academy of Sciences and the French Academy of Sciences


The Brain Prize, Lundbeck Foundation


Dickson Prize in Science


Keio Medical Science Prize


Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences


Dickson Prize in Medicine


Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences

Lecture Schedule



JN Tata Auditorium (IISc.)


January 18, 2016. 4.30 p.m.


Professor P Balaram

Former Director, Indian Institute of Science


Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao (Lady Andal) Auditorium, Chetpet

January 20, 2016. 6.00 p.m.

N Ram

Chairman & Publisher, The Hindu Group of Publications

New Delhi:

Jawaharlal Auditorium, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)

January 22, 2016. 4.30 p.m.

Professor K VijayRaghavan

Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Government of India

Other Lectures


Mary-Claire King

Understanding Inherited Breast and Ovarian Cancer...


Eric Lander

The Human Genome and Beyond: A 35-year Journey...


Huda Zoghbi

A Journey from the Clinic to the Laboratory to Understand Brain Disorders