Ed Boyden is an associate professor of biological engineering and brain and cognitive sciences, at the MIT Media Lab and the MIT McGovern Institute. He leads the Synthetic Neurobiology group, which develops tools for analyzing and engineering the circuits of the brain, and uses these neurotechnologies to understand how cognition and emotion arise from brain network operation, as well as to enable systematic repair of intractable brain disorders such as epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and chronic pain. These technologies, created often in interdisciplinary collaborations, include 'optogenetic' tools, which enable the activation and silencing of neural circuit elements with light, 3-D microfabricated neural interfaces that enable control and readout of neural activity, and robotic methods for automatically recording intracellular neural activity and performing single-cell analyses in the living brain. He has launched an award-winning series of classes at MIT that teach principles of neuroengineering, starting with basic principles of how to control and observe neural functions, and culminating with strategies for launching companies in the nascent neurotechnology space.
Ed was named to the "Top 35 Innovators Under the Age of 35" by Technology Review, the "Top 20 Brains Under Age 40" by Discover Magazine. In additon, he received the NIH Director's New Innovator Award, the Society for Neuroscience Research Award for Innovation in Neuroscience, the NSF CAREER Award, the Paul Allen Distinguished Investigator Award, the New York Stem Cell Foundation-Robertson Investigator Award, the Perl/UNC prize, and the IET Harvey Prize. Moreover, other recognitions include having his work featured in 2010 as the "Method of the Year" by the journal Nature Methods, and he has delivered lectures on optogenetics at TED and at the World Economic Forum. Ed received his PhD in neurosciences from Stanford University as a Hertz Fellow, where he discovered that the molecular mechanisms used to store a memory are determined by the content to be learned. Before that, he received three degrees in electrical engineering and physics from MIT. He has contributed to over 250 peer-reviewed papers, current or pending patents, and articles, and has given over 180 invited talks on his work.
Photo: Courtesy of Xue Han