BY JULIA JAMES
In the span of just three days this summer, husband-and-wife faculty members Karl Deisseroth, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and of bioengineering, and Michelle Monje-Deisseroth, associate professor of neurology and neurological sciences, earned three career-defining accolades. Deisseroth was co-recipient of the prestigious Lasker Award for his work on optogenetics, which allows neuroscientists to selectively inhibit or activate specific brain cells for study. Monje was named a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator and a MacArthur fellow for her research targeting deadly pediatric brain cancers. The two talked about sharing the limelight, supporting each other’s work and how each day is a new puzzle to be solved.
This was an eventful summer for you. What was it like to have three major awards announced in such quick succession?
Michelle: We had learned about each of those things in advance, but when we were told they were getting announced on days X, Y and Z, we were like, “Really? Oh, that’s going to be a hoppin’ week.” It was intense, but we felt it was very efficient. We were able to save on champagne. We just had to open one bottle.