Stanford School of Medicine

Chemical & Systems Biology We explore how regulatory circuits control cells and organisms


Ph.D. Program

Ferrell Lab

HeLa cells stained for cell cycle regulators.

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Mochly-Rosen Lab

Crystal structure of Alda-1, an isoform-selective chemical agonist of aldehyde dehydrogenase 2.

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Bogyo Lab

Optical imaging of lung tumor metastasis with a systemically delivered probe targeting the lysosomal cysteine protease legumain.

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Wandless Lab

Filipodia induction using an engineered “destabilizing domain” and a cell-permeable ligand called Shield-1.

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Wender Lab

Bryostatin 1 and GFP-PKC-expressing CHO-K1 cells, illustrating the use of molecular structure to affect biological function.

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Chen Lab

Live imaging of Hedgehog ligand-producing cells (green) and Gli-dependent transcription (red) during zebrafish development.

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Teruel Lab


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Kim Lab

Intrinsic clocks for aging.

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Kobilka Lab

Crystal structure of the beta 2 adrenergic receptor activating the G protein Gs.

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Cimprich Lab

Nuclear accumulation of a DNA marker (gammaH2AX) in cells with disrupted DNA replication.

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Advances In Basic Science And Molecular Medicine

The Department of Chemical and Systems Biology explores the frontiers of basic science and molecular medicine, particularly at the crossroads of cellular, chemical, and computational biology. We train Ph.D. students to apply genetic, chemical, cell biological, and quantitative methods to decipher the complex regulatory systems associated with normal physiology and disease states.

Specific research areas include cell signaling pathways, cell cycle control, epigenetics, cell fate specification, and genomic stability. The Chemical and Systems Biology Ph.D. program also emphasizes collaborative learning, and our research community includes scientists trained in molecular biology, cell biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering.

Our Ph.D. program consistently ranks among the top graduate training programs in the world. Most recently the National Research Council named us the top pharmacology-related training program in the United States, based on students’ GRE scores, faculty publications, median time to degree, program requirements, and training resources. The Chemical and Systems Biology graduate program was especially commended for the quality of its research activities.

Why Chemical And Systems Biology?

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How do cells achieve directed migration? Why doesn’t a skin cell become a neuron? How do drug-resistant cancers arise and how might they be prevented or overcome? Finding answers to these and other biomedical questions increasingly requires molecular, quantitative, and interdisciplinary approaches.

The Department of Chemical and Systems Biology is uniquely focused on understanding cell biology at the molecular and systems levels, and many of its faculty have expertise in biochemistry, chemistry, physics, and engineering. Developing novel technologies for basic research and translating discoveries into therapeutic strategies are also areas of special interest in the Chemical and Systems Biology community.

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Our goal is to train a new generation of scientists with the interdisciplinary skills and creative thinking required to tackle emerging challenges in biomedical research.  We invite all interested students to apply to the Chemical and Systems Biology Ph.D. program through the Stanford Biosciences online application form.  Applicants whose research interests match well with our scientific mission are encouraged to select Chemical and Systems Biology as their primary home program.