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Harvard’s Brown to explore mystery of anesthesia at Discovery Lecture

Feb. 4, 2016, 9:10 AM

Emery Brown, M.D., Ph.D., a noted anesthesiologist, neuroscientist and statistician, will deliver the next Flexner Discovery Lecture on Thursday, Feb. 11.

Emery Brown, M.D., Ph.D.

Brown is a faculty member of the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology. His lecture, “Deciphering the Dynamics of the Unconscious Brain Under General Anesthesia,” begins at 4 p.m. in 208 Light Hall.

Although general anesthesia has been administered in the United States for nearly 160 years, the mechanism by which an anesthetic drug renders a patient unconscious, insensitive to pain, immobile and without memory remains a medical mystery.

Brown and his colleagues are using a systems neuroscience approach to study how the state of general anesthesia is induced and maintained. Their long-term goals are to establish a neurophysiological definition of anesthesia, better methods for measuring depth of anesthesia, and safer, site-specific anesthetic drugs.

Brown is the Warren M. Zapol Professor of Anaesthesia at Harvard Medical School-Massachusetts General Hospital and the Edward Hood Taplin Professor of Medical Engineering and professor of Computational Neuroscience at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He is among a select group of individuals elected to all three National Academies — the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Medicine and National Academy of Engineering.

Brown’s lecture is sponsored by the Department of Anesthesiology. For a complete schedule of the Flexner Discovery Lecture series and archived video of previous lectures, go to

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