Associate Professor and AT&T Chair, MIT Media Lab and McGovern Institute, Departments of Biological Engineering and Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Co-Director, MIT Center for Neurobiological Engineering
Principal Investigator, Synthetic Biology Group
Ed Boyden develops new strategies for analyzing and engineering brain circuits to develop broadly applicable methodologies that reveal fundamental mechanisms of complex brain processes. A major goal of his current work is the development of technologies for controlling nerve cells using light.
Personal Website: edboyden.org/
Lab Page: syntheticneurobiology.org/
Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Boyden
Phone: (617) 324-3085
Address: Room E15-421 |20 Ames St. | Cambridge, MA 02139
Ed Boyden is Associate Professor of Biological Engineering and Brain and Cognitive Sciences, at the MIT Media Lab and the MIT McGovern Institute. He leads the Synthetic Neurobiology Group, which develops tools for analyzing and engineering the circuits of the brain. These technologies, created often in interdisciplinary collaborations, include ‘optogenetic’ tools, which enable the activation and silencing of neural circuit elements with light, 3-D microfabricated neural interfaces that enable control and readout of neural activity, and robotic methods for automatically recording intracellular neural activity and performing single-cell analyses in the living brain. He 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 also co-directs the MIT Center for Neurobiological Engineering, which aims to develop new tools to accelerate neuroscience progress.
Amongst other recognitions, he has received the Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award (2013), the Grete Lundbeck European “Brain” Prize, the largest brain research prize in the world (2013), the Perl/UNC Neuroscience Prize (2011), the A F Harvey Prize (2011), and the Society for Neuroscience Research Award for Innovation in Neuroscience (RAIN) Prize (2007). He has also received the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award (2013), the NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award (twice, 2012 and 2013), and the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award (2007), as well as the New York Stem Cell Foundation-Robertson Investigator Award (2011) and the the Paul Allen Distinguished Investigator Award in Neuroscience (2010). He was also named to the World Economic Forum Young Scientist list (2013), the Wired Smart List “50 People Who Will Change the World” (2012), the Technology Review World’s “Top 35 Innovators under Age 35” list (2006), and his work was included in Nature Methods “Method of the Year” in 2010.
His group has hosted hundreds of visitors to learn how to use neurotechnologies, and he also regularly teaches at summer courses and workshops in neuroscience, as well as delivering lectures to the broader public at TED and at the World Economic Forum. 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 over 300 peer-reviewed papers, current or pending patents, and articles, and has given over 240 invited talks on his group’s work.
MIT engineers have developed a way to make a brain expand to about four and a half times its usual size, allowing nanoscale structures to appear sharp with an ordinary confocal microscope.
The new “expansion microscopy” technique uses an expandable polymer and water to enable researchers to achieve “super-resolution” without the slower performance of existing “super-resolution” microscopes.
The BRAIN Initiative
Tools for Cells and Circuits (RFA MH-14-216)
Edwards S. Boyden, Director of the Synthetic Neurobiology Group, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dr. Boyden’s team will simultaneously image both the identities and locations of multiple proteins within individual synapses – made possible by a new technique called DNA-PAINT.
The Synthetic Neurobiology Group develops 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.
The Synthetic Neurobiology Group distributes its tools as freely as possible to the scientific community, and also applies 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.
Johansen J.P., Diaz-Mataix L., Hamanaka H., Ozawa T., Ycu E., Koivumaa J., Kumar A., Hou M., Deisseroth K., Boyden E.S., LeDoux J.E. (2014) Hebbian and neuromodulatory mechanisms interact to trigger associative memory formation, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111(51):E5584–E5592.
Darrow KN, Slama MC, Kozin E, Owoc M, Hancock K, Kempfle J, Edge A, Lacour S, Boyden E, Polley D, Brown MC, Lee DJ (2014) Optogenetic stimulation of the cochlear nucleus using channelrhodopsin-2 evokes activity in the central auditory pathway, Brain Research, doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2014.11.044.
Danilo Boada M., Martin T.J., Peters C.M., Hayashida K., Harris M.H., Houle T.T., Boyden E.S., Eisenach J.C., Ririe D.G. (2014) Fast Conducting Mechanoreceptors Contribute to Withdrawal Behavior in Normal and Nerve Injured Rats, Pain 155(12):2646-2655.
Harrison R.R., Kolb I., Kodandaramaiah S.B., Chubykin A.A., Yang A., Bear M.F., Boyden E.S.*, Forest C.* (2014) Microchip amplifier for in vitro, in vivo, and automated whole-cell patch- clamp recording, Journal of Neurophysiology doi:10.1152/jn.00629.2014. (*, equal contribution)
Fukunaga I., Herb J.T., Kollo M., Boyden E.S., Schaefer A.T. (2014) Independent control of gamma and theta activity by distinct interneuron networks in the olfactory bulb, Nature Neuroscience 17(9):1208-16.
A light switch for neurons Ted Talk March 2011
Tools for Mapping Brain Computations
Presentation (12/1/2014 by Ed Boyden at Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study
The brain is a densely and precisely wired circuit made of heterogeneous cells, which themselves are complex computational devices made of an incredible repertoire of molecules. Our group develops tools for mapping, recording from, controlling, and building brain circuits, in order to reveal how they work, as well as to open up new therapeutic avenues. We have developed genetically-encoded reagents that, when expressed in specific neurons, enable their electrical activities to be precisely driven or silenced in response to millisecond timescale pulses of light. I will give an overview of these optogenetic tools, adapted from natural photosensory and photosynthetic proteins, and discuss new tools we are developing, including molecules that enable multiplexed, noninvasive, and ultraprecise optical neural control, even of endogenous signaling pathways. We are developing, often working in interdisciplinary collaborations, microfabricated hardware to enable complex and distributed neural circuits to be controlled and recorded in a fully 3-D fashion, new kinds of microscopes capable of whole-nervous system neural activity imaging, robots that can automatically record neurons intracellularly and integratively in live brain, and strategies for building 3-D brain circuits in vitro. We aim to provide these tools to the neuroscience community in order to open up new fundamental as well as clinically relevant explorations of how to observe and repair brain circuits, and to apply these tools systematically to the mapping and engineering of entire brains.
Elizabeth Landau, CNN Wed. April 3, 2013
Cambridge, Massachusetts and Atlanta (CNN) — Ed Boyden tilts his head downward, remaining still except for his eyes, which dart back and forth between blinks for a full 10 seconds. Then, as if coming up for air from the sea of knowledge, he takes a breath, lifts his head back up and begins to speak again.
During these contemplative moments, you have to wonder what’s going on inside the head of this young scientist who, at age 33, has already helped invent influential technologies in the study of the human brain.
It made sense when he told me, on a cold February day in his office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “I guess I was always a philosopher at heart as a kid.”