Professor Boyden leads the MIT Media Labs Synthetic Neurobiology research group, which develops tools for mapping, controlling, observing, and building dynamic circuits of the brain, and uses these neurotechnologies to understand how cognition and emotion arise from brain network operation, as well as to enable systematic repair of intractable brain disorders such as epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, and post-traumatic stress disorder. His research group has invented a suite of optogenetic tools that are now in use by thousands of research groups around the world for activating and silencing neurons with light.
Boyden was named to the "Top 35 Innovators Under the Age of 35" by Technology Review in 2006, and to the "Top 20 Brains Under Age 40" by Discover magazine in 2008. He has received the Gabbay Award, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director's Pioneer Award and Transformative Research Award, the Society for Neuroscience Research Award for Innovation in Neuroscience, the NSF CAREER Award, the Paul Allen Distinguished Investigator Award, and the New York Stem Cell Robertson Investigator Award. In 2010, his work was recognized as the "Method of the Year" by the journal Nature Methods. Most recently he shared the 2013 Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Prize for outstanding contributions to European neuroscience the largest neuroscience prize in the world.