Brady Weissbourd

Assistant Professor of Biology
Investigator in The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory

Contact Info

Office: 68-430
Website: Weissbourd Lab

Administrative Assistant

Keith Murray
Phone: 617-253-6741

We use the tiny, transparent jellyfish, Clytia hemisphaerica, to ask questions at the interface of nervous system evolution, development, regeneration, and function. Our foundation is in systems neuroscience, where we use genetic and optical techniques to examine how behavior arises from the activity of networks of neurons. Building from this work, we investigate how the Clytia nervous system is so robust, both to the constant integration of newborn neurons and following large-scale injury. Lastly, we use Clytia’s evolutionary position to study principles of nervous system evolution and make inferences about the ultimate origins of nervous systems.

Systems neuroscience

We use diverse approaches to understand the neural basis of behavior, with particular interests in: (1) how animal behavior is modulated by the internal state of the organism over time, (2) how these states - and switches between them - are implemented, (3) how distinct regions and subnetworks of nervous systems communicate & coordinate to give concerted behavioral output, and (4) the roles of neuromodulation in these processes. As Clytia are tiny (1mm-1cm) and transparent, we use optical approaches to examine and perturb the whole nervous system in awake, behaving animals.

Neural Development and Regeneration

Clytia are constantly integrating newborn neurons into their nervous system without disrupting network function, and have incredible abilities to heal and regenerate, including recovery of genetically ablated neurons. We aim to understand these remarkable capabilities at their interface with network function.

Nervous System Evolution

From a evolutionary perspective, we are interested in: (1) the origins and early evolution of nervous systems, (2) identifying principles and innovations in neural systems across phylogeny, and (3) understanding the co-evolution of neural, morphological, and behavioral novelty. Through comparisons across the Clytia life cycle and with other organisms, Clytia present exceptional opportunities to address these questions.


Brady Weissbourd joined the MIT Biology faculty and The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory in 2023 after working as a postdoctoral scholar in the lab of David Anderson at Caltech. He earned his PhD in 2016 at Stanford University in the lab of Liqun Luo. His undergraduate studies in Human Evolutionary Biology took place at Harvard University where he earned a BA in 2009.
  • Klingenstein-Simons Fellowship Award in Neuroscience, 2023
  • Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00), National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2020
  • Life Sciences Research Foundation Fellow, 2017
Featured publications are below. For a full list visit the lab website linked above.

September 27, 2022
Sun, J. J., Ryou, S., Goldshmid, R. H., Weissbourd, B., Dabiri, J. O., Anderson, D. J., ... & Perona, P. (2022). In Proceedings of the IEEE/CVF Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (pp. 2171-2180).
November 26, 2021
Chari, T.*, Weissbourd, B.*, Gehring, J.*, Ferraioli, A.*, Leclère, L., Herl, M., ... & Pachter, L. (2021). Science Advances, 7(48), eabh1683. *Equal contribution.
November 24, 2021
Weissbourd, B., Momose, T., Nair, A., Kennedy, A., Hunt, B., & Anderson, D. J. (2021) Cell, 184(24), 5854-5868.e20.
November 5, 2020
Lechable, M., Jan, A., Duchene, A., Uveira, J., Weissbourd, B., Gissat, L., ... & Momose, T. (2020). Biology Open, 9(11).
April 9, 2019
Lo, L, Yao, S, Kim, DW, Cetin, A, Harris, J, Zeng, H, Anderson, DJ, Weissbourd, B. 2019. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 116, 7503-7512.

Starting off the year with new skills, new connections

January 9, 2024
Picower People
At MIT’s Quantitative Methods Workshop, more than 80 students and faculty from a dozen partner institutions became immersed at the intersection of computation and life sciences and forged new ties to MIT and each other.

New award funds study of a remarkable example of neural regeneration

July 1, 2023
New Research
A three-year fellowship will support Brady Weissbourd’s research on how the C. hemisphaerica jellyfish survives and thrives by constantly making new neurons.

Petite & Profound

June 22, 2023
Research Feature
Why studying simple organisms—none larger than the palm of your hand—is so integral to understanding nervous system health, disease and evolution.

3 Questions: Brady Weissbourd on a new model of nervous system form, function, and evolution

April 26, 2023

Spring break tours give high schoolers a chance to see science up close

March 31, 2023
Picower Events
Teens from area high schools got the chance to learn about advanced biology and brain research on field trips to MIT

Brian Grone, PhD
Senior Scientist

Karen Cunningham, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar

Bridgett Hunt, MS
Aquaculture specialist, research associate, and lab manager