• The D. H. Chen Foundation Professor at Stanford University Named for 2016 Massry Prize

    The Foundation is pleased to learn that Prof. Karl Deisseroth, the D. H. Chen Professor of Bioengineering and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, has been named one of three recipients for the 2016 Massry Prize. He has been honored for his major contributions in developing optogenetics, a groundbreaking biological technique in neuroscience involving the use of light and light-sensitive proteins to manipulate and examine the inner-workings of neuron cells in the brain.

    Recently, as a shining example of his work at the forefront of biomedical research, Prof. Deisseroth and his team have fundamentally changed existing knowledge on how the brain processes positive and negative experiences, as described in a recent publication in Cell. Combining the use of optogenetics and CLARITY – a technique developed also by Prof. Deisseroth to produce a transparent physical structure of a non-living brain – they have discovered that prefrontal brain neurons processing positive and negative experiences differ in both structure and signaling pathways. This new discovery may lay the foundation for substantial advances in psychiatric therapies, particularly for those tackling substance abuse disorders through specific stimulation of positive or negative responses.

    Founded in 1996 by the Meira and Shaul G. Massry Foundation, the Massry Prize recognizes scientists who have made crucial contributions to the field of biomedical sciences annually. Since its establishment two decades ago, twelve of the forty past laureates of this prestigious prize have gone on to further recognition by the Nobel Prize.