Edward S. Boyden, Ph.D.
Edward S. Boyden, Ph.D., is the Benesse Career Development Professor and associate professor of biological engineering and brain and cognitive sciences at the MIT Media Lab and MIT McGovern Institute. He leads the synthetic neurobiology group, which develops tools for controlling and observing the dynamic circuits of the brain. The tools his group has invented include a suite of optogenetic tools for activating and silencing neurons with light. Dr. Boyden 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. He was named to the “Top 35 Innovators Under the Age of 35” by Technology Review and to the “Top 20 Brains Under Age 40” by Discover Magazine, and has received the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, the Society for Neuroscience Research Award for Innovation in Neuroscience, the Paul Allen Distinguished Investigator Award, and the New York Stem Cell Foundation Robertson Investigator Award. Dr. Boyden received his Ph.D. in neurosciences from Stanford University and three degrees in electrical engineering and physics from MIT.
OptogeneticsUsing Light to Control the Brain
In 2004, scientists, including author Edward S. Boyden, Ph.D., found that the neural expression of a protein, channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2), allowed light to activate or silence brain cells. This technology, now known as optogenetics, is helping scientists determine the functions of specific neurons in the brain, and could play a significant role in treating medical issues as diverse as sleep disorders and vision impairment.