Edward Boyden

Hertz Fellow: Edward Boyden

Stanford University

Area of Study

Electrical Engineering

Fellowship Years

1999 - 2004

Ed Boyden is a 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 repairing complex biological systems such as the brain, and applies them systematically to reveal ground truth principles of biological function as well as to repair these systems. These technologies include expansion microscopy, which enables complex biological systems to be imaged with nanoscale precision, and optogenetic tools, which enable the activation and silencing of neural activity with light, amongst many other innovations. He co-directs the MIT Center for Neurobiological Engineering, which aims to develop new tools to accelerate neuroscience progress.

Amongst other recognitions, he has received the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (2016), the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award (2015), the Carnegie Prize in Mind and Brain Sciences (2015), the Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award (2013), the Grete Lundbeck Brain Prize (2013), the NIH Director's Pioneer Award (2013), the NIH Director's Transformative Research Award (three times, 2012, 2013, and 2017), and the Perl/UNC Neuroscience Prize (2011). He was also named to the World Economic Forum Young Scientist list (2013), the Technology Review World’s "Top 35 Innovators under Age 35" list (2006), and is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2017).

His group has hosted hundreds of visitors to learn how to use new biotechnologies, and he also regularly teaches at summer courses and workshops in neuroscience, and delivers lectures to the broader public (e.g., TED (2011); TED Summit (2016); World Economic Forum (2012, 2013, 2016)). Ed received his Ph.D. 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, computer science, and physics from MIT. He has contributed to over 400 peer-reviewed papers and granted/pending patents, and has given over 400 invited talks on his group's work.

Photo: Courtesy of Xue Han 
Personal Sites:
Website: synthneuro.org

2006 - Task-Selective Neural Mechanisms of Memory Encoding

Press Releases:

5/17/2019 Two Hertz Fellows and Hertz Director elected to National Academy of Sciences

1/17/2019 How to Rapidly Image Entire Brains at Nanoscale Resolution

12/13/2018 Team Invents Method to Shrink Objects to the Nanoscale

11/13/2018 Fixstars Announces the Release of Expansion Microscopy Studio

5/23/2018 Edward Boyden, PhD: HHMI Investigator

5/2/2018 Video: Prof. Ed Boyden Discusses Tool Development in Biology

4/15/2018 Playing Catch-Up with Optogenetic Effects

3/27/2018 2018 Canada Gairdner Awards Recognize World-Renowned Scientists

3/5/2018 Edward Boyden named inaugural Y. Eva Tan Professor in Neurotechnology

2/26/2018 Seeing the brain's electrical activity

12/12/2017 National Academy of Inventors Announces 2017 Fellows

11/14/2017 International Symposium on Molecular Medicine & Infectious Disease Prize Winners

11/13/2017 Next-Generation Optogenetic Molecules Control Single Neurons

10/27/2017 Four Hertz Fellows Granted Coveted National Institute of Health Director’s High-Risk Research Awards

10/5/2017 Ten researchers from MIT and Broad receive NIH Director’s Awards

10/3/2017 An MIT Professor Wants To Bring Entrepreneurs Into The Lab

6/1/2017 New Electrical Brain Stimulation Technique Shows Promise in Mice

5/29/2017 A New Way to Study the Brain’s Invisible Secrets

5/3/2017 Brain Mapping Tech Inflates Tissue 20x to Reveal Remarkable Detail

3/16/2017 The Entrepreneur with the $100 Million Plan to Link Brains to Computers

2/10/2017 Kalter: MIT Team Using VR in Fight VS. Cancer

3/3/2016 Ed Boyden Won a 3 Million Dollar Prize for Peering into the Brain. Here's How He's Spending it.

12/21/2015 Hertz Fellow Ed Boyden Taking Optogenetics to the Next Level and Wins the $3 Million Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences

1/23/2015 Ed Boyden, Hertz Fellow, to receive Andrew Carnegie Prize in Mind and Brain Sciences

9/9/2013 Edward Boyden, Hertz Fellow, Honored at World Economic Forum's New Champions 2013

3/31/2013 Ed Boyden is Mapping the Brain

9/13/2012 Jeff Gore and Ed Boyden Recipients of 2012 NIH Awards

4/25/2012 Edward Boyden Awarded Perl-UNC Neuroscience Prize