Optogenetics, a new technology invented by Scientific Council Member Karl Deisseroth, M.D., Ph.D., with the help of a NARSAD Young Investigator Grant in 2005, was the focus of Think Tank 2012, sponsored by the Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia & Parkinson Foundation held October 23rd in New York City.
Optogenetics has revolutionized systems neuroscience by providing precise control over brain circuitry in awake, behaving animals. The new technology involves the use of light to rapidly open and close the membrane channels that make neurons fire and cease firing and allows for observation of the effects on behavior. Now in use at over 1,000 laboratories, this new method is enabling identification of the mechanisms that give rise to depression, anxiety, PTSD and other brain and behavior disorders.
The co-chairs of the Think Tank 2012 are NARSAD Grantees: Nicole Calakos, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Neurology and Neurobiology, Center for Translational Neuroscience, Duke University Medical Center and D. James Surmeier, Ph.D., Nathan Smith Davis Professor and Chair, Department of Physiology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. The opening remarks were given by another NARSAD Grantee,Ted M. Dawson, M.D., Ph.D., Chair of The Scientific Advisory Board of the Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia & Parkinson Foundation and Professor of Neurodegenerative Diseases at The Johns Hopkins University. Mary Kay Lobo, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, one of the presenters, said her NARSAD Grant helped fund the research she discussed.