Prof. Dr. Ilka Diester






Phone: +49 (0)761 203-8440






Academic education



Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Eberhart-Karls-University, Tübingen, Germany


Dipl. Biol. (equivalent to Master) from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany



Scientific & professional career


Since 2014


W3 Professor at the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg


Research Group Leader at the Ernst Strüngmann Institute in Cooperation with Max Planck Society


Postdoctoral Research Fellow with Dr. Karl Deisseroth, Laboratory of Optogenetics, and Dr. Krishna Shenoy, Laboratory of Motor Control, Stanford University, California, USA.


Honors & Awards



Member of the FENS Kavli Network of Excellence


ERC Starting Grant


TILL Photonics Research Award


Bernstein Award (BMBF)


Boehringer Ingelheim FENS (Federation of European Neuroscience Societies) Research Award


Postdoctoral fellowship of the Human Frontier   Science Program (HFSP)


Academy prize of the Göttingen Academy of Science


Graduate “Summa cum laude”, Eberhardt-Karls University, Tübingen


Postdoctoral fellowship of the DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst)


Paper of the year award (Hertie Institute for clinical brain research)


Travel stipend of the NWG (Neurowissenschaftliche Gesellschaft)


Marine Biological Laboratory Award, Woods Hole


Journal papers

  1. O'Shea DJ, Kalanithi P, Ferenczi EA, Hsueh B, Chandrasekaran C, Goo W, Diester I, Ramakrishnan C, Kaufman MT, Ryu SI, Yeom KW, Deisseroth K, Shenoy KV (2018) Development of an optogenetic toolkit for neural circuit dissection in squirrel monkeys. Scientific Reports. 8(1):6775. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-24362-7

  2. Hardung S, Alyahyay M, Eriksson D, Diester I (2017), A toolbox for optophysiological experiments in freely moving rats Front. Sys. Neurosci. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.217.00027

  3. Hardung S., Epple R., Jaeckel Z., Eriksson D., Uran C., Senn V., Gibor L., Yizhar O.,  Diester I (2017) A Functional Gradient in the Rodent Prefrontal Cortex Supports Behavioral Inhibition, Current Biology 27, 1–7

  4. Ni J, Wunderle T, Lewis CM, Desimone R, Diester I, Fries P (2016Gamma-Rhythmic Gain Modulation. Neuron 92, 1–12.

  5. Fenno LE, Mattis J, Ramakrishnan C, Hyun M, Lee SY, Miao H, Tucci-arone J, Selimbeyoglu A, Berndt A, Grosenick L, Zalocusky KA, Bern-stein H, Swanson H, Diester I, Boyce FM, Bass C, Neve R, Huang ZJ, Deisseroth K (2014) Targeting cells with single vectors using multiple-feature Boolean logic. Nature Methods.  2014 Jul;11(7):763-72. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.2996.

  6. Ozden I, Wang J, Lu Y, May T, Lee J, Goo W, O’Shea DJ, Kalanithi P, Diester I, Diagne M, Deisseroth K, Shenoy KV, Nurmikko AV (2013) A Coaxial Optrode As Multifunction Write-Read Probe for Optogenetic Studies in Non-Human Primates. Journal Neuroscience Methods. 2013 Sep 30;219(1):142-54. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2013.06.011.

  7. Wang J, Wagner F, Borton DA, Zhang J, Ozden I, Burwell RD, Nurmikko AV, van Wagenen R, Diester I, Deisseroth K (2012) Integrated Device for Combined Optical Neuromodulation and Electrical Recording for Chronic In Vivo Applications. Journal of Neural Engineering. 2012 Feb;9(1):016001. doi: 10.1088/1741-2560/9/1/016001.

  8. Diester I, Kaufman MT, Mogri M, Pashaie R, Goo W, Yizhar O, Ramakrishnan C, Deisseroth K, Shenoy KV (2011) An optogenetic toolbox designed for primates. Nature Neuroscience. 2011 Mar;14(3):387-97. doi: 10.1038/nn.2749.

  9. Gilja V, Chestek CA, Diester I, Henderson JM, Deisseroth K, Shenoy KV (2011) Challenges and opportunities for next-generation intra-cortically based neural prostheses. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering. 2011 Jul;58(7):1891-9. doi: 10.1109/TBME.2011.2107553.

  10. Witten IB, Lin SC, Brodsky M, Prakash R, Diester I, Anikeeva P, Gradinaru V, Ramakrishnan C, Deisseroth K (2010) Cholinergic interneurons control local circuit activity and cocaine conditioning. Science. 2010 Dec 17;330(6011):1677-81. doi: 10.1126/science.1193771.

  11. Gradinaru V, Zhang F, Ramakrishnan C, Mattis J, Prakash R, Diester I, Goshen I, Thompson KR, Deisseroth K (2010) Molecular, cellular, and genomic force multipliers for optogenetic control. Cell. 2010 Apr 2;141(1):154-65. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2010.02.037.

  12.  Diester I, Nieder A (2009) Numerical values leave a semantic imprint on associated signs in monkeys. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 2010 Jan;22(1):174-83. doi: 10.1162/jocn.2009.21193.

  13. Diester I, Nieder A (2008) Complementary contributions of prefrontal neuron classes in abstract numerical categorization. Journal of Neuroscience. 2008 Jul 30;28(31):7737-47. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1347-08.2008.
  14. Diester I, Nieder A (2007) Semantic associations between signs and numerical categories in the prefrontal cortex. PLoS Biol. 2007 Oct 30;5(11):e294. PDF

  15. Nieder A, Diester I, Tudusciuc O (2006) Temporal and spatial enumeration processes in the primate parietal cortex. Science. 2006 Sep 8;313(5792):1431-5.


  1. Stroh A, Diester I (2012) Optogenetics: a new method for the causal analysis of neuronal networks in vivo. Neuroforum, lead article.

  2. Hubbard EM, Diester I, Cantlon JF, Ansari D, Opstal F, Troiani V (2008) The evolution of numerical cognition: from number neurons to linguistic quantifiers. Journal of Neuroscience.  2008 Nov 12;28(46):11819-24. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3808-08.2008.

Conference papers (peer-reviewed)

  1. Diester I, Kaufman MT, Goo W, O'Shea DJ, Kalanithi PS, Deisseroth K, Shenoy KV (2011) Optogenetics and brain-machine interfaces. Proc. of the 33rd Annual International Conference IEEE EMBS. Boston, MA.

  2. Wang J, Ozden I, Diagne M, Wagner F, Borton D, Brush B, Agha N, Burwell R, Sheinberg D, Diester I, Deisseroth K, Nurmikko A (2011) Approaches to Optical Neuromodulation from Rodents to Non-Human Primates by Integrated Optoelectronic Devices. Proc. of the 33rd Annual International Conference IEEE EMBS. Boston, MA. 2011;2011:7525-8. doi: 10.1109/IEMBS.2011.6091855.

Book chapters

  1. Diester I, Hefti F, Mansuy I, Pascual-Leone A, Robbins TW, Rubin LL, Sawa A, Wernig M, Dölen G, Hyman SE, Mucke L, Nikolich K, Sommer B (2015) Bridging the Gap between Patients and Models. Strüngmann Forum Reports. MIT Press. Book chapter in Translational Neuroscience - Towards New Therapies  edited by Karoly Nikolich and Steven E. Hyman. [PDF] [PDF-References]
  2. Karvat G, Diester I Optophysiology and Behavior in Rodents and non-human Primates. Book chapter in Optogenetics: A Roadmap by Albrecht Stroh. Springer Protocols, Springer. Volume 133, ISBN 978-1-4939-7415-3.
  3. Dölen G, Malenka RC, Perlmutter JS, Brose N, Frackowiak R, Cuthbert BN, Diester I, Mansuy I, Kroker KS, Boeckers TM, Pascual-Leone A, Feng G (2015)
  4. Pathophysiological Toolkit - Genes to Circuits. Strüngmann Forum Reports. MIT Press. Book chapter in Translational Neuroscience - Towards New Therapies  edited by Karoly Nikolich and Steven E. Hyman. [PDF] [PDF-References]
  5. Diester I (2010) Von der Anzahl zur Zahl - Neurobiologische Erkenntnisse über das Vorläufersystem des Zahlengebrauchs. Jahrbuch 2009 der Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen.




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