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Optogenetics: Shining a Light on Neuroscience | BenchTalk, Episode 8

In this episode, researchers Ed Boyden from MIT and Jean Bennett from the University of Pennsylvania discuss the development of optogenetics and recent clinical applications, especially for the treatment of retinal disease.

Also, in our science roundtable with science writers Sarah C.P. Williams and Ashley Yeager, we discuss neurobiology, the 2012 Nobel Prize winners, and DNA sequencing in outer space.


Featured in this Episode
Ed Boyden is a associate professor of media arts and science at the MIT Media Lab.
Jean Bennett is professor of Ophthalmology and cell and developmental biology and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Sarah C.P. Williams is a freelance science writer based out of Kailua, Hawaii. You can follow her latest work at
Ashley Yeager works in the Office of News and Communications at Duke University and is also a freelance science writer. You can follow her at
Andrew S. Wiecek is news editor at BioTechniques and host of the monthly podcast BenchTalk.You can follow him at
Episode Notes & Links

Ed Boyden Interview

  • At the MIT Media Lab, Ed Boyden leads the synthetic neurobiology group.
  • In a article published in Nature Neuroscience in 2005, Boyden and colleagues described the first optogenetics system.
Jean Bennett Interview
  • At the University of Pennsylvania, Jean Bennett's lab focuses on molecular genetics of retinal degernation and the development of gene therapies for ocular disease.
  • In 2011, Bennett and colleagues received a NIH pioneer award to apply optogenetic technology to retinal disease.

Podcast Date: October 26 2012 Run Time:
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