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Three Stanford scholars elected to the American Philosophical Society

Headshot of Karl Deisseroth

Image credit: Jim Gensheimer

Jun 15 2022


Three Stanford scholars have been elected to the American Philosophical Society, the oldest learned society in the United States.

Founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743 for the purpose of “promoting useful knowledge,” the American Philosophical Society is composed of scholars from a wide variety of academic disciplines. and has played an important role in American cultural and intellectual life.

Among the 37 scholars elected to the 2022 class of the American Philosophical Society are:

Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD, the D.H. Chen Professor, a professor of bioengineering and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and the director of undergraduate education in bioengineering. He is one of the developers of optogenetics, a technique that uses light to control the behavior of cells. He established his preeminence as a leader in neuroscience by developing a process to insert microbial proteins called opsins into mammalian brain cells, allowing them to be controlled by light.

Deisseroth and his colleagues used optogenetics to examine several brain disorders including depression and Parkinson’s disease and were able to reverse Parkinson’s symptoms in mice. After discovering a brain circuit that controls mammals’ desire to interact socially, he and his team used optogenetic techniques to trigger or inhibit social interactions between female mice. Deisseroth and his team have also perfected methods of controlling the behavior of ensembles of specified individual neurons.