HST Fall Dinner honors Emery Brown

HST Fall Dinner honors Emery N. Brown with attendees wearing baseball caps sporting HST logo on the front and "ENB Fan Club" on the back—this was in tribute to Brown who is known to routinely wear a cap faced backward.

Returning for the first time in three years, attendees celebrated being able to gather in-person

Mindy Blodgett | IMES-HST

Returning to the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology (HST) social calendar after a three-year hiatus—due to the ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic—the HST Fall Dinner took place on Nov. 14 at the MIT Samberg Conference Center.

Some 132 attendees reveled in finally being able to celebrate in person again, as has been the tradition of the annual dinner. This year’s event was also special because it served to honor Emery N. Brown, the Edward Hood Taplin Professor of Medical Engineering and of Computational Neuroscience, MIT, who stepped down earlier this year as co-director of HST, after almost 10 years in the role. He is succeeded by Collin M. Stultz, the Nina T. and Robert H. Rubin Professor in Medical Engineering and Science, who also took over as associate director of MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES), which is HST’s home at MIT.

During the dinner portion of the night, Brown spoke about his plans to develop a new joint center between MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).  Known as the Brain Arousal State Control Innovation Center (BASCIC) project, the new center will focus on the study of anesthesia to design novel approaches to controlling brain states. Brown says that while the goal of the new center will be to improve anesthesia and intensive care management, it will also study related problems such as treating depression, insomnia, and epilepsy.

Honoring Brown was Elazer R. Edelman, the Edward J. Poitras Professor in Medical Engineering and Science, MIT, and the director of IMES. Edelman, an HST alumnus—spoke of the many years he has known, worked with, and admired Brown—pointing out that Brown is fluent in both Spanish and French and that he has delivered medical lectures in those countries, in the native languages. Wolfram Goessling, the co-director of HST at Harvard University, praised Brown for his years at HST, and spoke of his enthusiasm for collaborating with Stultz going forward, recalling that he and Stultz had served as residents together during their medical training.

Stultz shared his memories of Brown’s mentorship, calling Brown “the most decorated anesthesiologist who walks the planet”. Brown is one of only 25 people—and the first African-American, statistician, and anesthesiologist—to be elected to all three National Academies (Science, Engineering, and Medicine).

As a unique gesture paying tribute to Brown—who is known to frequently sport a baseball cap worn backward—attendees were given baseball caps with the HST logo embroidered on the front, and “ENB Fan Club” on the back. After Edelman gave Brown an inscribed glass award, he asked everyone to put on their baseball caps, which they had been given at registration, and to then turn them around, to honor Brown’s style.