Dr. Viviana Gradinaru "Brain Control with Light"

This is an exciting time for engineering neuronal circuits to reverse pathological behaviors like depression, addiction and Parkinson's disease, and enhance mental performance.With the convergence of accumulating knowledge about brain circuits and technological advances in imaging and electrophysiology instrumentation, previously unimagined experiments are possible. Until recently, no available technology could cope with the tremendous variety of cell types in brain tissue.  Now, optogenetics - a technology based on light-responsive proteins - can be used to probe brain circuitry, offering insight into both healthy and diseased brains.  This lecture will describe the development of optogenetics and its application and challenges.

About Dr. Viviana Gradinaru:
Dr. Viviana Gradinaru's research interests include the generalized role that axonal stimulation plays into DBS-targeted disorders such as Parkinson’s and depression and the underlying mechanism of action. She is also interested in developing tools for electrical and biochemical control and localizing them to subcellular compartments.

This is one of the nine lectures in the Watson Lecture Series with Dr. Viviana Gradinaru's lecture, Assistant Professor of Biology at Caltech, chosen as the Richard C. Biedebach Memorial Lecture. This lecture series is named for the late Earnest C. Watson, who founded the series in 1922, featuring speakers from Caltech and JPL, speaking on cutting-edge research taking place at Caltech. Our gratitude to Earnest C. Watson, Richard C. Biedebach, and Arnold and Mabel Beckman for their contributions in making possible this free lecture to the public.

Admission is free on a first-come, first-served basis.
Doors open at 7:30pm.
For wheelchair seating services, call 626.395.4652.

Location and Parking Map:
Beckman Auditorium at CalTech in Pasadena.

Michigan Avenue south of Del Mar Boulevard, Pasadena. http://www.its.caltech.edu/~ope/techinfo/beckman.shtml, click on "Directions" located on left panel.

Parking is available in the lots south of Del Mar Boulevard between Wilson and Chester Avenues, as well as in the parking structures at 341 and 405 South Wilson Avenue, and 370 South Holliston Avenue.  Parking is free, with no permit required, after 5:00pm on weekdays and all day on weekends.

Beckman Auditorium Seating Map:

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  • Dave D.

    Very interesting. Way "technical" for sure, but a good overview of this current research.

    December 6, 2012


    The lecture was interesting. Though she speaks so softly it was hard to hear her. I will check out her website.

    December 6, 2012

  • johana j.


    December 5, 2012


    I resent the way they refer to brain disorders as "pathological behaviors." Brain disorders are physiological in nature like any other disease process in the body. My depression is not a behavior - it's how my whole body feels: sad, tired, hopeless. My analogy - The brain is like the projector, the mind is like the picture on the screen. What happens in the brain will translate in to how the mind thinks/feels.

    Otherwise I'm sure I will learn from and enjoy the lecture. The mind/brain is my favorite science subject, then evolution.

    Tricia ~ Atheist

    December 4, 2012

  • johana j.

    I love learning about brain control & subliminal messaging. I'm so excited & looking forward to this class.

    November 14, 2012

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