Inside Stanford Medicine - October 25th, 2010

The Institute of Medicine has granted membership to two members of the medical school faculty, Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD, and Stephen Galli, MD. New members are elected by current active members.

Deisseroth, associate professor of bioengineering and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, is both a practicing psychiatrist and the developer of optogenetics. In this technique, experimental animals are bioengineered so that their nerve fibers express a photosensitive ion channel originally isolated from algae. As a result, these nerve fibers respond to pulses of light, enabling researchers to precisely map the animals’ brain circuitry to patterns of behavior and pathology.

Galli, professor and chair of pathology, focuses on circulating white blood cells called mast cells and basophils, which are linked to allergies, asthma and, more favorably, the immune response to parasites. Mast cells in particular are also implicated in autoimmune and inflammatory disorders, angiogenesis and many other physiological pathways. Galli’s laboratory studies mast-cell and basophil development and function in animal models and humans in order to elucidate these cells’ role in health and disease.

The Institute of Medicine, established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences, is recognized as a national resource for independent, scientifically informed analysis and recommendations on health issues. Its active membership consists of 1,649 highly accomplished professionals.