Ed Boyden

Y. Eva Tan Professor in Neurotechnology, Departments of Biological Engineering and Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT Media Lab, and McGovern Institute
Co-Director, MIT Center for Neurobiological Engineering
Affiliate member of the Picower Institute for Learnng and Memory

Contact Info

Office: E15-421
Phone: 617-324-3085

Administrative Assistant

Holly Birns
Office: E15-416
Phone: 617 715 4737

The brain is incredibly complex - each cubic millimeter of your brain contains perhaps a hundred thousand cells, connected by a billion synapses, each operating with millisecond precision. We develop tools that enable the mapping of the molecules and wiring of the brain, the recording and control of its neural dynamics, and the repair of its dysfunction. We distribute our tools as freely as possible to the scientific community, and also apply them to the systematic analysis of brain computations, aiming to reveal the fundamental mechanisms of brain function, and yielding new, ground-truth therapeutic strategies for neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Ed Boyden is the Y. Eva Tan Professor in Neurotechnology in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Biological Engineering and 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, among many other innovations. He co-directs the MIT Center for Neurobiological Engineering, which aims to develop new tools to accelerate neuroscience progress.

Among 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 more than 400 peer-reviewed papers and granted/pending patents, and has given more than 400 invited talks on his group's work.

Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2017)

Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (2016)

BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award (2015)

Carnegie Prize in Mind and Brain Sciences (2015)

Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award (2013)

Grete Lundbeck Brain Prize (2013)

NIH Director's Pioneer Award (2013)

World Economic Forum Young Scientist list (2013)

NIH Director's Transformative Research Award (2012, 2013, and 2017)

Perl/UNC Neuroscience Prize (2011)

Technology Review World’s "Top 35 Innovators under Age 35" (2006)

Featured publications are below. For a full list visit the lab website linked above.

November 13, 2017
Or A. Shemesh*, Dimitrii Tanese*, Valeria Zampini*, Changyang Linghu, Kiryl Piatkevich, Emiliano Ronzitti, Eirini Papagiakoumou, Edward S. Boyden+ and Valentina Emiliani+, Nature Neuroscience 20:1796–1806. (*, co-first authors; +, co-corresponding authors)
August 30, 2017
Ho-Jun Suk, Ingrid van Welie, Suhasa B. Kodandaramaiah, Brian Allen, Craig R. Forest, Edward S. Boyden, Neuron 95(5):1037-1047.
July 17, 2017
Zhao Y*, Bucur O*, Irshad H, Chen F, Weins A, Stancu AL, Oh EY, DiStasio M, Torous V, Glass B, Stillman IE, Schnitt SJ, Beck AH**, Boyden ES**, Nature Biotechnology 35(8):757-764. (*, co-first authors; **, co-corresponding authors)
June 1, 2017
Grossman N, Bono D, Dedic N*, Kodandaramaiah SB*, Rudenko A, Suk HJ, Cassara AM, Neufeld E, Kuster N, Tsai LH, Pascual-Leone A, Boyden ES, Cell 169(6):1029-1041. (* equal contribution)
April 17, 2017
Chang, J.-B., Chen, F., Yoon, Y.-G., Jung, E. E., Babcock H., Kang J.-S., Asano S., Suk H.-J., Pak N., Tillberg P.W., Wassie A., Cai D., Boyden E.S., Nature Methods 14:593-599.

A noninvasive method for deep brain stimulation

June 1, 2017
Research Findings
Electrodes placed on the scalp could help patients with brain diseases.

Unique visual stimulation may be new treatment for Alzheimer’s

December 7, 2016
Research Findings
Noninvasive technique reduces beta amyloid plaques in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease.

Making waves for health

March 1, 2018
News feature
Innovative insights, methods raise clnical potential of instilling brain waves


Lisa Lieberson

Holly Birns

Desiree Dudley

Graduate Students and Postdocs and Research Staff

Shahar Alon

Nick Barry

Orhan Celiker

Alexi Choueiri

Danielle Cosio

Peilun Dai

Amauche Emenari

Daniel Estandian

Limor Freifeld

Rui Gao

Beatriz Goncalves

Dan Goodwin

Kettner Griswold

Katriona Guthrie-Honea

Ishan Gupta

Eghbal Hosseini

Shannon Johnson

Erica Jung

Louis (Jeong Seuk) Kang

Manos Karagiannis

Monique Kauke

Changyang Linghu

Daniel Oran

Nikita Pak

Demian Park

Andrew Payne

Kiryl Piatkevich

Paul Reginato

Sam Rodriques

David Rolnick

Deblina Sarkar

Jorg Scholvin

Or Shemesh

Anubhav Sinha

Michael Skuhersky

Ho-Jun Suk

Giovanni Talei Franzesi

Ru Wang

Asmamaw (Oz) Wassie

Aimei Yang

Young Gyu Yoon

Jay (Chih-Chieh) Yu

Yongxin Zhao

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
43 Vassar Street, Bldg. 46-1303
Cambridge, MA 02139
(+1) 617-324-0305
(+1) 617-452-2588