The Croonian Medal and Lecture, awarded to Boyden, has been given out annually by the Royal Society since 1738.

Ed Boyden wins premier Royal Society honor

The Croonian Medal and Lecture, awarded to Boyden, has been given out annually by the Royal Society since 1738.

McGovern Investigator Ed Boyden. Photo: Bryce Vickmark

Edward S. Boyden, the Y. Eva Tan Professor in Neurotechnology at MIT, has been awarded the 2019 Croonian Medal and Lecture by the Royal Society. Twenty-four medals and awards are announced by the Royal Society each year, honoring exceptional researchers who are making outstanding contributions to science.

“The Royal Society gives an array of medals and awards to scientists who have done exceptional, ground-breaking work,” explained Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society. “This year, it is again a pleasure to see these awards bestowed on scientists who have made such distinguished and far-reaching contributions in their fields. I congratulate and thank them for their efforts.”

Boyden wins the medal and lecture in recognition of his research that is expanding our understanding of the brain. This includes his critical role in the development of optogenetics, a technique for controlling brain activity with light, and his invention of expansion microscopy. Croonian Medal laureates include notable luminaries of science and neurobiology.

“It is a great honor to be selected to receive this medal, especially
since it was also given to people such as Santiago Ramon y Cajal, the
founder of modern neuroscience,” says Boyden. “This award reflects the great work of many fantastic students, postdocs, and collaborators who I’ve had the privilege to work with over the years.”

The award includes an invitation to deliver the premier British lecture in the biological sciences, given annually at the Royal Society in London. At the lecture, the winner is awarded a medal and a gift of £10,000. This announcement comes shortly after Boyden was co-awarded the Warren Alpert Prize for his role in developing optogenetics.

History of the Croonian Medal and Lecture

William Croone, pictured, envisioned an annual lecture that is the premier biological sciences medal and lecture at the Royal Society
William Croone, FRS Photo credit: Royal College of Physicians, London

The lectureship was conceived by William Croone FRS, one of the original Fellows of the Society based in London. Among the papers left on his death in 1684 were plans to endow two lectureships, one at the Royal Society and the other at the Royal College of Physicians. His widow later bequeathed the means to carry out the scheme. The lecture series began in 1738.



Ed Boyden holds the titles of Investigator, McGovern Institute; Y. Eva Tan Professor in Neurotechnology at MIT; Leader, Synthetic Neurobiology Group, MIT Media Lab; Professor, Biological Engineering, Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT Media Lab; Co-Director, MIT Center for Neurobiological Engineering; Member, MIT Center for Environmental Health Sciences, Computational and Systems Biology Initiative, and Koch Institute.