Carnegie Mellon University
January 24, 2019

Emery N. Brown Awarded CMU's Dickson Prize in Science

Renowned scientist will lecture on "The Dynamics of the Unconscious Brain Under General Anesthesia," Jan. 31

Abby Simmons
  • Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 412-268-6094

Carnegie Mellon University will award the Dickson Prize in Science to Dr. Emery N. Brown, an esteemed anesthesiologist, neuroscientist and statistician. He is the Edward Taplin Professor of Medical Engineering and Computational Neuroscience at Massachusetts Institute of Technology , the Warren M. Zapol Professor of Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School and a practicing anesthesiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Brown will deliver the Dickson Prize Lecture, "The Dynamics of the Unconscious Brain Under General Anesthesia," and receive a medal and cash prize at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 31, in the Tepper Building's Simmons Auditorium A. The event is free and open to the public.

"My goal is to provide every patient requiring surgery precisely controlled, side-effect free general anesthesia," Brown said.

The Dickson Prize winner leads an interdisciplinary, multi-institute team in Boston that studies the neuroscience of general anesthesia. He also directs the Neuroscience Statistics Research Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital and MIT, researching statistical methods and signal processing algorithms to analyze data collected in neuroscience experiments.

Robert E. Kass, the Maurice Falk Professor of Statistics and Neuroscience at CMU and a member of the joint CMU/University of Pittsburgh Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, nominated Brown for the award.

"What is most unusual about Emery, whom I've known for over 20 years, is his combination of scientific breadth with technical depth," Kass said. "There seems to be no branch of the large subject of neuroscience that Emery is not involved with. In addition, Emery's research on anesthesia is recognized as truly transformative."

Brown's research established a framework for understanding how anesthetic drugs create the altered states of arousal that comprise general anesthesia. His discoveries have led to new paradigms for monitoring the brain states of a patient receiving general anesthesia, as well as strategies for anesthetic drug dosing and for controlling the anesthetic state precisely.

Brown is widely recognized for developing signal processing algorithms and statistical methods to accurately characterize the dynamic properties of neuroscience data.

He is one of 21 people who has the rare distinction of holding membership in all three national academies: the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. He also is a fellow of the IEEE, the American Statistical Association, the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Inventors.

Brown received a National Institutes of Health Director's Pioneer Award, the National Institute of Statistical Sciences Sacks Award and the American Society of Anesthesiologist Excellence in Research Award. He also served on President Obama's NIH Brain Initiative Working Group.

He earned a bachelor's degree in applied mathematics from Harvard College, a master's degree and doctorate in statistics from Harvard University, and a medical degree from Harvard Medical School.

The Dickson Prize in Science was established in 1969 by the late Pittsburgh physician Joseph Z. Dickson and his wife, Agnes Fisher Dickson. It is awarded annually to individuals in the United States who make outstanding contributions to science.