Awarded in 2008
Home Department: Neurosciences
Faculty Advisors: Karl Deisseroth (Bioengineering, Psychiatry) and Jaimie Henderson (Neurosurgery)
Research Title: Mechanisms of Deep Brain Stimulation Revealed by Optogenetic Deconstruction of Diseased Brain Circuitry
Research Description: Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a powerful therapeutic option for intractable movement and affective disorders (Parkinson's disease, tremor, depression); however, due to the nonspecificity of electrical stimulation, DBS has variable efficacy and can lead to serious side effects, such as speech impairment or paresis. Viviana’s research used precise bioengineering tools to address a critical question in the neurosurgery field: how does DBS exert its therapeutic effects? By using a cell-type specific optical deep brain stimulator developed in the Deisseroth lab, her research investigated the role of specific cell types in PD pathology. Their findings could be used to improve the parameters for electrode placement and stimulation in patients.
Viviana is a professor of neuroscience and biological engineering at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). She is also an investigator at Heritage Medical Research Institute, and the director of the Center for Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience.