KNAW Symposium

Shining light on optogenetics, what is the impact on science in the Netherlands?

25 November 2013 from 16:00 to 19:15 hrs
KNAW, Kloveniersburgwal 29, 1011 JV Amsterdam
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What does optogenetics mean for science in the Netherlands? To shine a light on this technology, which was hailed as Method of the Year in 2010 and Breakthrough of the Decade by top scientific journals, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) is organising a symposium to present the applications and possible impact of optogenetics on science.

Keynote speaker: Karl Deisseroth, D.H. Chen Professor of Bioengineering and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University.


Stanford University Optogenetics is a technique for controlling biological processes by light and has now exerted a major impact on the life sciences. It combines techniques from optics and genetics to control the activity of individual cells in living tissue not only in culture but also in living animals. Among the first uses of optogenetics was in neuroscience, where targeted neurons in the brains of freely-moving animals expressed optogenetic constructs that allowed the manipulation of electrical activity in real-time and as a result specifically altered animal behaviour. This concept has now been extended to other cell types like those of the heart, where optogenetics can be used to control the rate of beating as a kind of optical pacemaker.

Perhaps in the future, patients with cognitive or physical disorders will be treated by carefully controlled light. The keynote speaker Karl Deisseroth pioneered the development and application of optogenetic methods for studying the function of neuronal networks underlying behaviour.

This symposium is intended for everyone interested in optogenetics, in particular scientists from disciplines which can be influenced by optogenetics.



4:00 p.m.

Welcome by Christine Mummery, chair


Keynote lecture by Karl Deisseroth, Stanford University


Pacing lightly: Optogenetics in Cardiovascular Physiology - Philip Sasse, Institute for Physiology, Life & Brain Center, University of Bonn


Photopharmacology - Dirk Trauner, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

 5:45-6:10 p.m.


The neuronal codes of the cerebellum - Chris de Zeeuw, Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, KNAW

Three-minute presentations

Closing remarks by the chair

7:15 p.m.


Call for three-minute presentations

What do you believe is the impact of optogenetics on Dutch science? Submit your proposal before 15 November 2013 to  and attend the symposium to give your three-minute presentation on the possible serious impact optogenetics may have on various scientific fields in the Netherlands, e.g. on food, neuroscience, psychiatry, material science, nanophotonica and more.


Participation is free, but please register in advance by submitting the online registration form.