Edward Boyden

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Edward Boyden
Boyden at the MIT Media Lab in 2018
Born (1979-08-18) August 18, 1979 (age 44)
Alma mater
AwardsPerl-UNC Prize (2011)
IET A F Harvey Prize (2011)
The Brain Prize (2013)
Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (2016)
Gairdner Foundation International Award (2018)
Rumford Prize (2019)
National Academy of Sciences (2019)
Warren Alpert Foundation Prize (2019)
Wilhelm Exner Medal (2020)
Scientific career
Notable studentsDeblina Sarkar

Edward S. Boyden is an American neuroscientist at MIT. He is the Y. Eva Tan Professor in Neurotechnology, a faculty member in the MIT Media Lab and an associate member of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research. In 2018 he was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. He is recognized for his work on optogenetics. In this technology, a light-sensitive ion channel such as channelrhodopsin-2 is genetically expressed in neurons, allowing neuronal activity to be controlled by light. There were early efforts to achieve targeted optical control dating back to 2002 that did not involve a directly light-activated ion channel,[1] but it was the method based on directly light-activated channels from microbes, such as channelrhodopsin, emerging in 2005 that turned out to be broadly useful. Optogenetics in this way has been widely adopted by neuroscientists as a research tool, and it is also thought to have potential therapeutic applications.[2] Boyden joined the MIT faculty in 2007, and continues to develop new optogenetic tools as well as other technologies for the manipulation of brain activity. Previously, Boyden received degrees in electrical engineering, computer science, and physics from MIT.[3] During high school, Boyden attended the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science.[4]

Dr. Boyden is the co-founder of Elemind,[5] a stealth neurotechnology company that augments sleep, attention, and the human experience,[6] as well as Cognito Therapeutics,[7] a company developing therapeutics designed to improve the lives of patients living with neurodegenerative disease.


In 2008 Boyden was named by Discover Magazine as one of the top 20 scientists under 40.[8] In 2006, he was named to the MIT Technology Review TR35 as one of the top 35 innovators in the world under the age of 35.[9] In 2013 he shared the Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award for Biotechnology and Medicine with Karl Deisseroth and Gero Miesenböck.[10]

On November 29, 2015, Edward Boyden was one of five scientists honored with the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, awarded for “transformative advances toward understanding living systems and extending human life.”[11][12]

He has received the 2015 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Biomedicine, jointly with Karl Deisseroth and Gero Miesenböck, for the development of optogenetics, the most unique technique for studying the brain today.[13] In 2018, Boyden won the Canada Gairdner Foundation International Award, jointly with Karl Deisseroth and Peter Hegemann. In 2019, he was awarded the Rumford Prize for "extraordinary contributions related to the invention and refinement of optogenetics," with Ernst Bamberg, Karl Deisseroth, Peter Hegemann, Gero Miesenböck, and Georg Nagel.[14] In the same year, he, Deisseroth, Hegemann, and Miesenböck won the Warren Alpert Foundation Prize.[15]

He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2019.[16] In 2020, Boyden was awarded with the Wilhelm Exner Medal.[17]


  1. ^ Zemelman; Lee GA; Ng M; Miesenböck G. (2002). "Selective photostimulation of genetically chARGed neurons". Neuron. 33 (1): 15–22. doi:10.1016/S0896-6273(01)00574-8. PMID 11779476.
  2. ^ "Rewiring the Brain: Inside the New Science of Neuroengineering". Wired. March 2, 2009.
  3. ^ "Synthetic Neurobiology Group: Ed Boyden, Principal Investigator". Syntheticneurobiology.org. Retrieved 2016-03-01.
  4. ^ "Ed Boyden CV" (PDF). Edboyden.org. Retrieved 2016-03-01.
  5. ^ https://opencorporates.com/companies/us_ma/001437467 [bare URL]
  6. ^ http://www.elemindtech.com [bare URL]
  7. ^ "About | Cognito Therapeutics".
  8. ^ "Two Scientists named to Discover's 'Top 20 Under 40' list". MIT News. 13 November 2008. Retrieved 2019-04-30.
  9. ^ "2006 Young Innovators Under 35". Technology Review. 2006. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
  10. ^ "Past Winners | Gabbay Award | Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center | Brandeis University". www.brandeis.edu. Retrieved 2019-04-30.
  11. ^ "Breakthrough Prize". Breakthrough Prize. Retrieved 2016-03-01.
  12. ^ "Edward Boyden wins 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences". MIT News. 9 November 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-16.
  13. ^ "BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards". www.fbbva.es. Archived from the original on 2016-08-22. Retrieved 2016-07-04.
  14. ^ "Rumford Prize Awarded for the Invention and Refinement of Optogenetics". American Academy of Arts & Sciences. 30 January 2019. Retrieved 2019-03-12.
  15. ^ "2019 Warren Alpert Prize Recipients Announced | Warren Alpert Foundation Prize". warrenalpert.org. Archived from the original on 2021-08-14. Retrieved 2019-07-16.
  16. ^ "2019 NAS Election". www.nasonline.org. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  17. ^ Edward S. Boyden, retrieved on 29. June 2020 in Wilhelmexner.org

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