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Brain circuit work takes top medical accolade.

A new international prize of [pounds sterling] 300,000 has been awarded to Professor Ed Boyden Ibis his research in medical engineering. Boyden has been named as the inaugural recipient of the Institution of Engineering and Technology's (JET) A F Harvey Engineering Research Prize.

He leads the Synthetic Neurobiology Group at MIT, which develops tools fir controlling and observing the dynamic circuits of the brain. He uses these neurotechnologies to understand how cognition and emotion arise from brain network operation, as well as to enable repair of brain disorders.

Over a billion people worldwide suffer from a brain disorder such as stroke, depression, migraine, epilepsy, Parkinson's, chronic pain, or blindness. Few of these disorders are effectively treatable by drugs or neurosurgical procedures.

Ideally, to treat a brain disorder, an intervention would be able to control the specific neurons within the circuit that can most powerfully overcome the brain disorder.

To address this need, Boyden has developed genetically-encoded molecular tools that, when expressed in defined sets of neurons in the brain, enable them to be electrically activated or silenced using pulses of light. These "optogenetic" tools are proteins called opsins, found in many organisms, that serve photosynthetic or photosensory roles, transforming light into electrical signals.

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Title Annotation:News; Ed Boyden
Publication:Environmental Engineering
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 1, 2012
Words:204
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