Special Programs & Events
To foster a vibrant community of interdisciplinary and creative scientists, the Department of Chemical and Systems Biology sponsors several annual events. These include lectureships and symposia that showcase the latest advances in biomedical science and a unique visiting professorship that explores the intersection between science and art. The Department is also closely associated with the Stanford SPARK program, which supports translational science and entrepreneurship.
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Programs for Enhancing Interdisciplinary and Translational Science:
This lectureship was established in 1973 in the memory of Dr. Windsor Cooper Cutting (1907-1972). Dr. Cutting spent most of his academic career at Stanford, including his undergraduate and medical training, a professorship at the Department of Molecular Pharmacology (now the Department of Chemical and Systems Biology), and service as the Dean of the School of Medicine (1953-1957). Dr. Cutting also served as the Dean of the Medical School at the University of Hawaii (1963). As an author and research scientist, Dr. Cutting’s work laid the foundation for much of modern pharmacology and therapeutic drug development.
The Windsor Cutting Memorial Lectureship is supported by private contributions, and in the spirit of Dr. Cutting’s legacy, it features scientists at the forefront of basic and translational science. Recent Cutting Lecturers include Dr. Fred Cross (Rockefeller University), Dr. David Sabatini (Whitehead Institute-MIT), and Dr. Jonathan Weissman (UCSF).
The Cutting Memorial Lectureship funds also support annual symposia focused on either Chemical Biology or Systems Biology.
Ralph I. Dorfman Lectureship
This lectureship was established in 1985 in honor of Dr. Ralph I. Dorfman, who was a Visiting Professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology from 1967 to 1973 and then served as a Consulting Professor until his death in 1985. He was president of Syntex Research and an internationally recognized expert in the biochemistry and pharmacology of steroids. Dr. Dorfman was one of the pioneers in the development of oral contraceptives and the mechanisms of steroid action. In recognition of these accomplishments, he was a member of the National Academy of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as many other distinguished societies. Dr. Dorfman published more than 650 scientific papers and was the author or editor of 14 books. He also founded the journal Steroids.
Dorfman Lecturers have included similarly renowned scientists, such as Dr. Alfred Gilman (UT-Southwestern), Dr. Dan Koshland (UC-Berkeley), Dr. Rudolph Jaenisch (MIT), Dr. Stuart Schreiber (Broad Institute-Harvard), and Dr. Svante Pääbo (Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology).
Sterling Visiting Professorship
This professorship was established in 1986 by a gift from Sterling Drug, Inc., and it enables the Department of Chemical and Systems Biology to host a visiting scholar for up to one week. During this time of residence, the Sterling Visiting Professor delivers a major lecture and participates in workshops with faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows. In recent years, the Department of Chemical and Systems Biology has dedicated this professorship to individuals who explore the relationship between science and art and commonalities between these seemingly disparate disciplines. Previous Sterling Visiting Professors have included the contemporary Chinese artist Yang Jiechang, the Israeli conductor Itay Talgam, the New York City-based glass artist Alyson Shotz, public art planning and creative placemaking consultant Barbara Goldstein, and nationally recognized artist, curator, and patient advocate Ted Meyer.
While basic science is our primary mission at the Department of Chemical and Systems Biology, we also recognize the importance of advancing these discoveries to benefit human health and welfare. Bridging the gap between bench and bedside is a challenging endeavor due to the risks inherent in early-stage translational research, limited funding for such nascent programs, and the significant milestones necessary to attract industrial partnerships. Chemical and Systems Biology Professor Daria Mochly-Rosen founded the SPARK program in 2007 to help bridge this gap, building upon Stanford’s tradition of technological innovation and entrepreneurship.
Faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows from over 30 laboratories currently participate in the Stanford SPARK program, which provides financial support, educational programs, and individualized mentorship for translational projects. Approximately 10 projects are funded each year, and SPARK Scholars attend weekly seminars that cover a variety of topics related to the development and commercialization of biomedical technologies. Several leaders of the Bay Area biotechnology industry also participate in the SPARK program, providing expert advice for each project. Thus far, SPARK has enabled the clinical testing or commercial licensing of 15 products and the founding of 8 companies. More information on the program is available on the SPARK website.