Joint Colloquium Distinguished Lecture Series

Optical Control of Biological Systems

viviana gradinaru

Wednesday, September 28, 2011
306 Soda Hall (HP Auditorium)
4:00 - 5:00 pm

Viviana Gradinaru
Ph.D., Research Associate CNC Center at Stanford University Caltech Assistant Professor of Biology (starting 2012)

Downloadable pdf


How is the brain wired and how does the wiring contribute to its function, in health and in disease? Dr. Gradinaru will present the development and applications of optogenetics, a technology that uses light combined with microbial opsins to control specific circuits in the brain. Optogenetics was successfully used to provide insight into the mechanism behind deep brain stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson's disease. Unlike electrical stimulation, optogenetic manipulations are highly cell-type specific. Combined with detailed connectivity maps, information about the roles of specific cell types in DBS mechanisms can be used to improve the parameters for electrode placement and stimulation in patients.


Dr. Viviana Gradinaru studied Physics for two years at University of Bucharest, Romania, before transferring to Caltech, from where she graduated with honors in 2005 with a bachelor degree in Biology. She then continued as a PhD student in the Neuroscience Program at Stanford. In the optogenetics lab of Prof. Karl Deisseroth, Viviana worked on developing tools (i.e. Optogenetic Brain Stimulators) to control brain function and applying them to study psychiatric diseases. Dr. Gradinaru’s focus is on understanding the mammalian brain wiring and the mechanism behind deep brain stimulation in movement and mood disorders such as Parkinson’s and depression. She is also interested in translational bioengineering for better human health.

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