Viviana Gradinaru, Ph.D.


Viviana Gradinaru discovered her passion for neuroscience at Caltech, her alma mater, where she was accepted as a transfer student from University of Physics, Romania, with a full scholarship. Viviana did her Ph.D. work with Karl Deisseroth at Stanford University and she played an instrumental role in the early development and applications of optogenetics, a research area concerned with the perturbation of neuronal activity via light-controlled ion channels and pumps. During her doctoral and postdoctoral studies Viviana developed optogenetic tools, molecular and hardware, many of which are being used today by the neuroscience community and helped disseminate the technology by training students in the OIL (Optogenetics Initiative Laboratory at Stanford) and during summer courses at Cold Spring Harbor. For her thesis, Viviana collaborated with Jaimie Henderson (Stanford Neurosurgery) on a project that used optogenetics to look at the mechanisms for Deep Brain Stimulation in a rodent model of Parkinson's; her work emphasized the importance of axonal stimulation for modulating brain-wide activity and behavior.