Emery N. Brown

Photo: David Orenstein

Picower Institute for Learning and Memory

Pierre Galletti Award recognizes contributions to neural signal processing, anesthesiology advances

The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering announced today that it is awarding its highest honor this year to Emery N. Brown, Edward Hood Taplin Professor of Computational Neuroscience and Health Sciences & Technology in The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES) at MIT.

Brown, who is also an anesthesiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Warren M. Zapol Professor at Harvard Medical School, will receive the 2022 Pierre M. Galletti Award during the national organization’s Annual Event held virtually in the evening of on March 25.

For decades Brown’s lab has uniquely unified three fields: neuroscience, statistics and anesthesiology. He is renowned for the development of statistical methods and signal-processing algorithms to enable and improve analysis of neural activity measurements. The work has had numerous applications including studies of learning and memory, brain-computer interfaces and systems neuroscience. He has also pioneered investigations of how general anesthetic drugs work in the brain to induce and maintain simultaneous but reversible states of unconsciousness, amnesia, immobility and analgesia. Building on these improvements in fundamental understanding, his lab engineers systems to improve monitoring of patient state and anesthetic dosing during surgery. Optimizing doses of general anesthetic drugs can improve patient care in many ways including by minimizing side effects such as post-operative delirium and by improving post-operative pain management.

AIMBE said Brown earned the award in recognition of his “significant contributions to neuroscience data analysis and for characterizing the neurophysiology of anesthesia-induced unconsciousness and demonstrating how it can be reliably monitored in real time using electroencephalogram recordings.”

Brown, who is also a faculty member in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, is now working to develop a research center at MIT dedicated to taking neuroscience-based approaches to advance anesthesiology. In order to focus on this new endeavor, he recently announced that after almost 10 years, he will be stepping down as co-director of the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology (HST), and as associate director of IMES (IMES is HST's home at MIT).

“I am extremely honored and grateful to the AIMBE for choosing me to receive the 2022 Galletti Award in recognition of my research deciphering the neuroscience of how anesthetics work,” he said. “I would like to express my gratitude to my collaborators, post-doctoral fellows, students, research assistants and clinical coordinators who have made this possible.”

Past winners of the Pierre M. Galletti Award include James Collins, a core faculty member at IMES, the Termeer Professor of Medical Engineering and Science and a professor of Biological Engineering, MIT; and Robert Langer, David H. Koch Institute Professor, MIT, and an affiliate faculty member at IMES.