The 2022 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize Lectures
Columbia University has awarded the 2022 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize to Drs. Karl Deisseroth, Peter Hegemann, and Gero Miesenböck, for research that laid the foundation for the field of optogenetics. Each awardee will present a lecture on February 16, 2023.
Guests may attend in-person or virtually via Zoom webinar. See below for in-person locations and Zoom webinar information.
“Optogenetics: Causes, Connections, Mechanisms”
Gero Miesenböck, MD
Waynflete Professor of Physiology
Director, Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour
University of Oxford, UK
“From Algal Vision to Prosthetic Human Vision”
Peter Hegemann, PhD
Hertie Professor for Neuroscience
Institute of Biology and Experimental Biophysics
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany
“The Inner Workings of Channelrhodopsins and Nervous Systems”
Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Professor of Bioengineering, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Stanford University, USA
Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD
Dr. Deisseroth is professor of bioengineering and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. He received his AB in biomedical sciences from Harvard and his PhD and MD from Stanford. Dr. Deisseroth completed his medical internship and adult psychiatry residency at Stanford and is board-certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. He is a practicing psychiatrist (inpatient and outpatient) at Stanford with specialization in affective and autism-spectrum disorders, employing medications along with neural stimulation. He also is director of undergraduate education for bioengineering at Stanford. Dr. Deisseroth’s book, “Projections,” was published by Penguin Random House in 2021. The book relates inner experiences of psychiatric patients to modern neuroscience..
Dr. Deisseroth is known for revealing the first high-resolution structures of each of the three major classes of channelrhodopsins and for discovering the structure-function relationships underlying their key functional properties (including their kinetics, spectrum, and ion selectivity), which led to creation of new tools in collaboration with Peter Hegemann. He is also known for first demonstrating neural control with microbial proteins (channelrhodopsins) using light and for achieving the first control of single individually identified brain cells and of behavior in living mammals (using the optical light-guidance strategies and the red-light-activated channelrhodopsins he had discovered). He also is known for using his optogenetic methods to elucidate the neuronal circuits underlying fundamental animal survival drives– including thirst and hunger– as well as to elucidate specific cellular mechanisms of perception, cognition, and action. Dr. Deisseroth provides free tool distribution and free education/training programs that have enabled use of these technologies in many thousands of laboratories around the world.
Dr. Deisseroth was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2010, to the National Academy of Sciences in 2012, and to the National Academy of Engineering in 2019. For his work, he received the 2010 Nakasone Prize, 2012 Perl Prize, 2013 Lounsbery Prize, 2013 Gabbay Prize, 2013 BRAIN Prize, 2014 Dickson Prize in Science, 2015 Breakthrough Prize, 2015 Keio Prize, 2015 Lurie Prize, 2015 Albany Prize, 2015 Dickson Prize in Medicine, 2016 BBVA Award, 2017 Massry Prize, 2017 Fresenius Prize, 2018 Gairdner Award, 2018 Kyoto Prize, 2020 Heineken Prize, 2021 Lasker Award, and, most recently, the 2022 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize.
Peter Hegemann, PhD
Dr. Hegemann is the Hertie Professor for Neuroscience in the Institute of Biology and Experimental Biophysics at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany. He was born in Muenster and grew up in Aachen, Germany. He received both his undergraduate degree in chemistry and his doctoral degree in biochemistry at the Ludwig Maximilian University Muenchen, followed by a postdoc in the physics department of Syracuse University. He returned to Germany, where he led an independent research group at the Max-Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried. He later became professor of biochemistry in Regensburg and professor for biophysics at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, where he was named to the Hertie Professorship for Neurosciences. He is a member of the German National Academy Leopoldina, the European Molecular Biology Organisation , and the Berlin Brandenburg Academy of Science.
Dr. Hegemann’s research focuses almost entirely on the characterization of natural sensory photoreceptors, mainly from microalgae. He has characterized behavioral and photoelectric responses of the unicellular alga Chlamydomonas, a work that culminated with the claim that the photoreceptor for these responses was a rhodopsin that unified the sensor and ion channel in one protein. Dr. Hegemann finally proved this hypothesis by identifying the light-gated channel channelrhodopsin and by demonstrating its functionality in animal cells. Of equal importance, his group discovered the fundamental principles of the unique channelrhodopsin proteins in molecular detail by a wide range of genomic, biophysical, electrophysiological, and structural techniques with many mutants. That led to the deciphering of the unprecedented light-gated ion channel mechanism, including its pore gating by photons and its ion selectivity. This basic work also fundamentally enabled optogenetics, the technology in which light-activated proteins–first and foremost channelrhodopsin--allow control of selected cells within systems as complex as the mammalian brain, with unprecedented precision in space and time, by delivery of light.
Gero Miesenböck, MD
Dr. Miesenböck is the Waynflete Professor of Physiology and director of the Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Before joining Oxford in 2007, he was on the faculty of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Yale University. A native of Austria, Dr. Miesenböck graduated from the University of Innsbruck Medical School and was a postdoctoral fellow with 2002 Horwitz Prize winner Dr. James Rothman.
In papers published between 2002 and 2005, Dr. Miesenböck laid the conceptual and experimental foundations of optogenetics. He was the first to use opsins to activate neurons and the first to use optogenetics to control animal behavior to delineate neural underpinnings and identify the processes that regulate—and are regulated by—the relevant neurons. Now widely adopted by others, this strategy has in his hands yielded insights into mechanisms of memory storage, decision-making, and the regulation and function of sleep.
⇒ The Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize Website
⇒ Press Release: The 2022 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize Winners
⇒ Past Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize Winners