Since its development in 2005, optogenetics has become an essential tool for thousands of researchers, and has been incredibly revealing about the function of the brain. The technique has also been useful for revealing new targets for treating brain disorders: discoveries made with optogenetics are yielding potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other conditions.
Boyden has developed many other technologies for manipulating and measuring the brain, ranging from noninvasive brain stimulation methods to a robotic system for evolving new fluorescent indicators of neural activity. One of the most audacious is a technique called expansion microscopy (ExM), in which a microscopic specimen is embedded in a gel, which is then carefully expanded so that nanoscale features can be imaged using conventional microscopes. Boyden is using this method to study the intricate patterns of connections between individual neurons, and he hopes that it will eventually be possible to produce a complete connectivity map of the brain.
Ed Boyden moved to MIT in 2006 after receiving a PhD in Neuroscience from Stanford University. He is now the Y. Eva Tan Professor in Neurotechnology at MIT and Professor in Brain and Cognitive Sciences, with joint appointments in the Program in Media Arts and Sciences and the Department of Biological Engineering. Ed was selected to become a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator in 2018, has been awarded the NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award three times (2012, 2013, and 2017), and received an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award in 2013.
Member, National Academy of Sciences
Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Member, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) College of Fellows
Member, National Academy of Inventors
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Investigator, 2020
Wilhelm Exner Medal, 2020
Royal Society Croonian Medal, 2019
Warren Alpert Foundation Prize, 2019
Lennart Nilsson Award, 2019
Rumford Prize, 2019
Canada Gairdner International Award, 2018
Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, 2016
BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award, 2015
Society for Neuroscience Young Investigator Award, 2015
Carnegie Prize in Mind and Brain Sciences, 2015
Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award, 2013
NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, 2013
Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Prize, 2013
Perl/UNC Prize, 2011