Prof. PD Dr. phil.nat. Sonja Kleinlogel

Research Group Leader, Lecturer

Department of Physiology

University of Bern

Sonja Kleinlogel is Group Leader of the “Translational Optogenetics Lab” at the Institute of Physiology of the University of Bern and tenured since 2018. Already during her Postdoc at the Max-Planck Institute in Frankfurt/M (Germany) she contributed pioneering work to the emerging field of optogenetics. Optogenetics is a molecular technology that introduces genes encoding light-sensitive proteins into selected target cells to render them controllable by light. Sonja Kleinlogel has been ever since intrigued by the interplay of the “small” – the protein/molecule –with the “big and complex” – the organism – and fascinated by implementing tricks from nature into research to open new avenues in applications. The translational optogenetics lab engineers proteins, predominantly light-sensitive opsins and target receptors, to impose a specific function; on one hand to unravel yet elusive cellular signaling pathways, on the other hand to develop new avenues for therapies. Over the last years the lab developed a designer optogenetic gene therapy for the restoration of vision. Here, the G-protein coupled receptor mGluR6 was engineered into a light-sensitive receptor that was shown to restore high visual capabilities in otherwise entirely blind mice when delivered to the retina by an optimized gene therapy. The second pillar of the lab is its interest in unraveling neuronal signaling – healthy, pathological and restored - with a focus on the retina and the visual cortex using a palette of electrophysiological and behavioral techniques.