Bio-X Graduate Student Fellow

Awarded in 2016
Home Department: Bioengineering

Faculty Advisors: Karl Deisseroth (Bioengineering, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences) and Brian Kobilka (Medicine – Cardiovascular, Molecular & Cellular Physiology)

Research Title: Structure-guided expansion of inhibitory optogenetic tools

Research Description: Precise control of neurons is a long-sought goal in neuroscience because of its importance in brain study and psychiatric disease treatment.  The field of optogenetics addresses this goal by using light to precisely control electric signals within neurons both spatially and temporally through light-activated ion channel proteins called opsins.  Due to a lack of protein structure information, a major challenge is the engineering of opsins with the capabilities to inhibit neuronal activity.  Yoon proposes to solve protein crystal structures of opsins to understand how to better engineer, as well as discover, ion channels that have broader and more efficient inhibitory capabilities. This would lead to a better control of brain activity and further contribute to the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.


Yoon Seok is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Neurology & Neurological Sciences department at Stanford.