Richard J. Cohen

Core Faculty
Phone: (617) 253-7430
Website: Cohen Lab
Lab Phone: (617) 253-7430
Lab Fax: (617) 253-3019
room: E25-213B
MIT address: 77 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139
Administrative Assistant: Caitlin Vinci
assistant phone: (617) 253-0009
assistant email:

Richard J. Cohen

Core Faculty


  • Whitaker Professor in Biomedical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Institute of Medical Engineering and Science, MIT, Core Faculty
  • Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology (HST), Faculty, MD Alumnus


Dr. Cohen received his MD degree from Harvard Medical School in 1976 and his PhD in Physics in the same year from MIT. He pursued clinical training at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston in Internal Medicine (board certified) and Cardiology. Since 1979 he has been on the MIT faculty where he is currently the Whitaker Professor in Biomedical Engineering in the Institute of Medical Engineering and Science (IMES) and the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology (HST).

For 25 years he served as an Associate Physician at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, for ten years he directed the Center for Biomedical Engineering of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST), for six years he directed the NASA Center for Quantitative Cardiovascular Physiology, Modeling and Data Analysis at MIT, and for eight years he was Team Leader of the Cardiovascular Alterations Team of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute. For eight years Dr. Cohen co-directed the Biomedical Enterprise Program of HST and the MIT Sloan School of Management. Students in this program obtained an MBA degree and an SM degree in Health Sciences and Technology preparing them for leadership positions in the biomedical industry.

Dr. Cohen has directed his Division’s Cardiovascular Pathophysiology and Principles of Pharmacology courses taken by both MD and PhD students. He has taught courses in biomedical enterprise: Dynamics of Biomedical Technologies, Evaluating a Biomedical Business Concept, and Medicine for Managers and Entrepreneurs. He has also taught a variety of other courses including courses on cell and tissue biophysics, quantitative physiology, biomedical signal processing and biomedical engineering.

Dr. Cohen has extensive industry experience. He has consulted for many biomedical companies and has founded one. He has served on the boards of for-profit and non-profit organizations, and has had public board of directors experience. He teaches courses on how to manage the many issues faced by biomedical companies and also in this capacity he has interacted with many biomedical industry leaders. He also has made a number of successful presentations at the US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on reimbursement issues. He has also served as an expert witness in patent litigation cases.

Dr. Cohen’s research interests are described below.


  • PhD in Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1976
  • MD in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, 1976
  • BA in Chemistry and Physics, Harvard College, 1971

selected awards/societies

  • Detur Prize Recipient
  • National Science Foundation Fellow
  • John A. and George L. Hartford Fellow


Dr. Cohen focuses on the application of physics and engineering to solve problems in biology and medicine, particularly in developing cardiovascular diagnostic and therapeutic technologies. He has developed a noninvasive measurement of microvolt level fluctuations in electrocardiographic signals to identify individuals at risk for sudden cardiac death form heart rhythm disturbances. Cambridge Heart, Incorporated, a company that Dr. Cohen helped found, has commercialized this technology, which is called the “measurement of microvolt T-wave alternans.” The technology has been successfully tested in a wide range of international clinical trials and is being introduced into widespread clinical practice.

selected publications

A full list of Dr. Cohen’s publications can be found on his website.

courses taught

  • HST 973 – FA 2013 – Evaluating a Biomedical Business Concept
  • HST 979 – SP 2013 – Dynamics of Biomedical Technologies