Surprisingly, Rhodopsin's most pronounced contributions have been in the field of neuroscience; where researchers have genetically engineered Rhodopsins into neurons. This addition has provided neuroscientists with the ability to trigger specific brain cells merely by exposing them to light. Using this exciting tool, scientists have developed precise methods for manipulating neural networks with light, and the field —now known as Optogenetics— has emerged.
Yet, while Optogenetics has been broadly profiled for its accomplishments in neuroscience, researchers have also made steady progress in utilizing Rhodopsin as means of enhancing cellular metabolism. Today, metabolic enhancements —once believed to require the difficult re-regulation of complex mitochondrial reactions— can now be achieved through merely integrating Rhodopsin into the mitochondrial matrix.
During this TED presentation, Dr. Boyden —a pioneer in the field of Optogenetics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology— explains the discovery of Rhodopsin as well as its potential for the future of Synthetic Biology...