Principal Investigators

The McGovern Institute faculty comprises one of the most distinguished groups of brain researchers anywhere in the world. Its members include one Nobel laureate, five members of the National Academy of Sciences, and leading experts in many areas of neuroscience. The Institute currently has 19 principal investigators. Along with its 17 full members, these include two associate faculty members, who collaborate closely with the full investigators and participate in all the Institute’s activities. All McGovern faculty hold appointments in one or more academic departments at MIT.

Our faculy are listed alphabetically below.

Emilio Bizzi

Emilio Bizzi examines how the brain translates our general intentions into the detailed commands needed to control muscle movement.

Ed Boyden


Ed Boyden
is developing new tools to analyze and engineer the computations of the brain, for both research and therapeutic purposes.

Gloria Choi

Gloria Choi uses molecular, anatomical, and behavioral methods to study how olfactory sensory representations are encoded and how they acquire behavioral significance.

Martha Constantine-Paton

Martha Constantine-Paton studies the formation and modification of synapses in order to understand how experience shapes the wiring of the brain.

Robert Desimone

Robert Desimone investigates the brain mechanisms that allow us to focus our attention on a specific task while filtering out distractions.

James DiCarlo

James DiCarlo examines the complex network of brain regions that allow us to recognize vast numbers of objects rapidly and effortlessly.

Michale Fee

Michale Fee studies birdsong in order to understand how the brain learns and generates complex sequential behaviors.

Guoping Feng

 Guoping Feng studies the function of synapses and their disruption in mouse models of psychiatric disease.

John Gabrieli

John Gabrieli uses brain imaging and behavioral tests to understand the organization of memory, thought, and emotion in the human brain.

Ki Ann Goosens

Ki Ann Goosens studies the effects of stress on the brain in order to help develop new therapeutic strategies for psychiatric diseases.

Ann Graybiel

Ann Graybiel studies the role of the basal ganglia in normal brain function and in conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and addiction.

H. Robert Horvitz

H. Robert Horvitz explores how genes control animal development, behavior, and the mechanisms that underlie neurodegenerative disease.

Alan Jasanoff

Alan Jasanoff is developing a new generation of brain imaging technologies to study the neural mechanisms of behavior.

Mehrdad Jazayeri

Mehrdad Jazayeri studies the brain’s time-keeping mechanisms at the levels of neurons, circuits and behavior.

Nancy Kanwisher

Nancy Kanwisher uses brain imaging and behavioral tests to study how different regions of the brain contribute to our perception of the visual world.

Yingxi Lin

Yingxi Lin studies how inhibitory circuits form within the brain and how they are shaped by activity and experience.

Tomaso Poggio

Tomaso Poggio develops computational models of the brain to understand human intelligence and to build machines that can mimic human performance.

Rebecca Saxe

Rebecca Saxe studies the neural basis of abstract thought, including the brain mechanisms by which we understand the mental states of other people.

Feng Zhang

Feng Zhang applies synthetic biology methods to the study of brain disease, through the manipulation of brain development and function.

Images: Kent Dayton and Justin Knight Photography