Ed Boyden, PhD

Photo of Professor Boyden.



Associate Professor of Biological Engineering and Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT Media Lab and McGovern Institute
Y. Eva Tan Professor in Neurotechnology


Tools for mapping, analyzing, and controlling brain computations
New therapeutics for neurology and psychiatry
Approaches for ground-truth understanding of living systems


Prof. Ed Boyden completed his undergraduate degrees in Physics and Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences and a Master of Engineering at MIT. He committed to his pre-doctoral studies as a fellow at the Departments of Neurobiology and Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University. Prof. Boyden joined MIT as Assistant Professor at the Media Lab and the Department of Biological Engineering in 2007.


Your brain mediates everything that you sense, feel, think, and do. A challenge for humanity is to understand the brain at a level of abstraction that enables the engineering of its function -- so that it becomes possible to understand how the brain computes, and also to treat intractable brain disorders. We are inventing new tools for mapping, analyzing, and controlling brain circuits. For example, we have devised, often working in interdisciplinary collaborations, 'optogenetic' molecular tools, which enable the activation and silencing of genetically targetable neural circuit elements with light, new microscopes and nanotechnologies that enable the systematic control and readout of neural activity, and robotic and microscopic methods for mapping cellular functions throughout the living brain. We distribute tools as freely as possible, and are using our inventions to enable systematic approaches to neuroscience, revealing how neurons work together in circuits to generate behavior, and empowering new therapeutic strategies for neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Research Areas: 

Honors & Awards: 

Schuetze Award in Neuroscience, 2014
Carl P. Duncan Lecturer, Northwestern University, 2014
Theodore Koppanyi Lecturer, Georgetown University, 2014
Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award, 2013
Herman P. Schwan Lecturer, University of Pennsylvania, 2013
Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Prize "The Brain Prize", 2013
Marine Biology Laboratory, Friday Evening Lecturer, 2013
NIH Director's Pioneer Award, 2013
World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland, Invited Speaker, 2012, 2013
NIH Director's Transformative Research Award, 2012, 2013
Bagrit Lecturer, Imperial College London, 2012
Perl/UNC Neuroscience Prize, 2011
A F Harvey Prize, 2011
NIH Director's New Innovator Award, 2007
Society for Neuroscience, Research Award for Innovation in Neuroscience (RAIN), 2007
Technology Review TR35, World's Top 35 Innovators under Age 35, 2006

Selected Publications:

Klapoetke, Nathan C., Yasunobu Murata, Sung Soo Kim, Stefan R. Pulver, Amanda Birdsey-Benson, Yong Ku Cho, Tania K. Morimoto, Amy S. Chuong, Eric J. Carpenter, Zhijian Tian et al. "Independent optical excitation of distinct neural populations." Nat Methods 11, no. 3 (2014): 338-46.
Chuong, Amy S., Mitra L. Miri, Volker Busskamp, Gillian A. C. Matthews, Leah C. Acker, Andreas T. Sørensen, Andrew Young, Nathan C. Klapoetke, Mike A. Henninger, Suhasa B. Kodandaramaiah et al. "Noninvasive optical inhibition with a red-shifted microbial rhodopsin." Nat Neurosci 17, no. 8 (2014): 1123-9.
Prevedel, Robert, Young-Gyu Yoon, Maximilian Hoffmann, Nikita Pak, Gordon Wetzstein, Saul Kato, Tina Schrödel, Ramesh Raskar, Manuel Zimmer, Edward S. Boyden et al. "Simultaneous whole-animal 3D imaging of neuronal activity using light-field microscopy." Nat Methods 11, no. 7 (2014): 727-30.
Kodandaramaiah, Suhasa B., Giovanni Talei Franzesi, Brian Y. Chow, Edward S. Boyden, and Craig R. Forest. "Automated whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology of neurons in vivo." Nat Methods 9, no. 6 (2012): 585-7.
Chow, Brian Y., Xue Han, Allison S. Dobry, Xiaofeng Qian, Amy S. Chuong, Mingjie Li, Michael A. Henninger, Gabriel M. Belfort, Yingxi Lin, Patrick E. Monahan et al. "High-performance genetically targetable optical neural silencing by light-driven proton pumps." Nature 463, no. 7277 (2010): 98-102.