Feng Zhang, PhD



Core Member, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
Investigator, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, MIT
James and Patricia Poitras Professor of Neuroscience at MIT
Associate Professor, Departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Biological Engineering, MIT
New York Stem Cell Foundation-Robertson Investigator


Synthetic biology
Development of technologies for genome and epigenome engineering
Neural circuit engineering
Stem cell engineering
Gene delivery


McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT
Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard


Feng Zhang attended Harvard University as an undergraduate, where he earned an A.B. in Chemistry and Physics in 2004. He transitioned to Stanford for his Ph.D. in Chemistry and Biophysics, which he obtained in 2009 while working in Karl Deisseroth’s research group for his work  pioneering optogenetics in conjunction with Ed Boyden. After a postdoc in George Church’s lab, he moved to MIT in January of 2011, where he is now both an Associate Professor of Biological Engineering and a Core Institute Member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

Feng Zhang has received a number of honors, including the NIH Pioneer Award and the Perl-UNC Neuroscience Prize, along with Ed Boyden and thesis advisor Deisseroth. He is additionally a Searle Scholar.


The mammalian brain poses a formidable challenge to the study and treatment of neuropsychiatric diseases – owing to the complex interaction of genetic, epigenetic, and circuit-level mechanisms underlying pathogenesis. Technologies that facilitate functional dissection of distinct brain circuits are necessary for systematic identification of disease origin and therapy. The Zhang group is developing and applying molecular and optical technologies for probing brain function in health and disease. The lab hopes that these new approaches will improve our understanding and treatment of brain diseases.

Research Areas: