Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

A new Medium article from the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics chronicles Gero Miesenböck's seminal research into optogenetics, starting at his eureka moment some 20 years ago.

None © Gero Miesenböck

On the afternoon of 12 June 1999, a Saturday, Gero Miesenböck returned to his apartment in Manhattan from a long walk after lunch, ready to open a book he had been absorbed in, Independence Day by Richard Ford. “As I was reaching for the book, drifting from the real world into Ford’s fictional New Jersey, there was the idea of optogenetic control. I knew instantly that I was on to something. My wife remembers my excitement as I tried to explain the concept to her, and especially the terrible hangover nearly two years later when my postdoc and I celebrated that we had got it to work.”

That Manhattan moment launched a series of now classical studies that made Miesenböck the first scientist to modify nerve cells genetically so that their activity could be controlled by light. This breakthrough technology, called optogenetics, has transformed neuroscientific research and opened new possibilities for the treatment of brain disorders. By providing the means to control neural signals with high precision, optogenetics has raised neurobiology’s standards of proof. It has shed light, literally and figuratively, on virtually every brain function: sensation and movement, motivation and learning, sleep and waking, communication and decision-making.

Read more (Medium website)

Similar stories

EAVI2020: The Quest for an HIV Vaccine

In this long read published to coincide with International AIDS Day, we explore how an international collaboration – of which the University of Oxford is a key partner – has boosted HIV vaccine research. We thank our partners at Imperial College London for allowing us to reproduce and abridge this article.

New SMRU building opened in Thailand to provide health care to marginalized populations

The inauguration of a new joint Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) and Borderland Health Foundation (BHF) Building took place in Mae Ramat, Thailand, this week.

Smoking increases the risks of 56 diseases in Chinese adults

Smoking increases the risks of 56 diseases and kills more than one million adults in China each year from 22 different causes, according to new research published in The Lancet Public Health.

Success for Oxford researchers in The Genetics Society 2023 Awards

Researchers from Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, Radcliffe Department of Medicine and Nuffield Department of Population Health have been recgonised in The Genetics Society 2023 awards.

New Studentship honours Enzo Cerundolo

A new Studentship has been announced in memory of the late MRC HIU Director and MRC WIMM Group Leader.