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Prize for Deisseroth and Xie

Stanford University's Karl Deisseroth and Xiaoliang Sunney Xie from Harvard University are to be this year's recipients of the Albany Medical Center Prize in Biomedicine and Biomedical Research, the Associated Press reports.

Businessman Morris Silverman established the $500,000 prize in 2001 to honor researchers whose work has "altered the course of medical research," the AP says.

Deisseroth, a professor of bioengineering and psychiatry, uses optogenetics to better understand brain circuitry and inform studies of psychiatric and other diseases, including depression, bipolar disorder, and Parkinson's disease, as well as normal processes like memory, hunger, and learning, according to a press release from Albany Medical Center. Deisseroth also developed an approach dubbed CLARITY that also enables better visualization of the brain.

Xie, meanwhile, is a chemistry and chemical biology professor who uses fluorescence to study single molecules in living cells. This approach, Albany Medical Center notes, has been used to follow the enzymatic reactions of a single enzyme in real time as well as gene expression in real time. Xie has also, with the development of the MALBAC single-cell whole genome amplification method, contributed to the growth of single-cell genomics.

"These two prolific scientists saw a need for new technology to help move their research forward and then actually developed it," says Vincent Verdile, the dean of Albany Medical College and prize committee chair, in a statement. "Researchers worldwide are now using their techniques, including novel imaging and sequencing, which are fast providing insights into previously mysterious biological functions, especially those in the brain."

The prize is to be awarded May 15.