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Chemistry and Chemical Biology at UCSF

Why is chemistry and chemical biology important?

Across the whole spectrum of biology, principles, pathways, and processes are coming into focus at the molecular—and often the atomic—level. At this resolution, the concepts and tools of chemistry can be applied and exploited with great precision and acuity to develop novel chemical strategies; understand fundamental biological processes; and diagnose, combat, and cure human disease. The UCSF Chemistry and Chemical Biology Graduate Program trains interdisciplinary scientists to exploit chemical biology strategies.

Why is now an ideal time for the field?

Rapid developments in the human genome, biophysical instrumentation, and the availability of the structures of many drug targets provide tools to meet the challenges of improving drug design. Students trained in the UCSF Chemistry and Chemical Biology Graduate Program will have an impact on drug discovery and design in a time when pressures to accelerate and improve the quality and reduce the cost of drug development are intense.

Why train in chemistry and chemical biology at UCSF?

UCSF, with its extraordinarily interactive research culture and unique mix of basic science and clinical research faculties, is a perfect environment in which to carry out research at the interface of chemistry and biology. Located within a major medical campus, the Chemistry and Chemical Biology Graduate Program faculty is poised to apply chemical approaches to important problems in human health, ranging from AIDS and metastatic cancer to atherosclerosis and neurological degeneration. The program is set within a university whose basic science PhD graduate programs, including the Chemistry and Chemical Biology program, rank among the best in the U.S. according to a September 28, 2010 report by the National Research Council.

Our faculty holds among the highest honors in science. For example, they are members of the National Academy of Sciences, Searle Scholars, and Hans Neurath Award winners.

UCSF takes an interdisciplinary approach to education.

UCSF is known widely for its success in interdisciplinary PhD science education. Students not only share courses and attend seminars across fields, they also rotate through laboratories and eventually settle in the laboratories of particular principal investigators, all the while training alongside students in other programs.

This interdisciplinary approach to graduate education is reflected in how graduate programs are often grouped together to leverage their strengths. The Chemistry and Chemical Biology Graduate Program, for example, is:

UCSF’s research atmosphere is one of collaboration.

At UCSF, all graduate students learn from the most accomplished faculty in the world for whom collaboration is a shared commitment. UCSF was founded in 1864 when California was still a frontier and San Francisco was a place for the bold and fearless. That pioneering spirit remained with UCSF and is reflected today in its discoveries—from oncogenes to prions and from how telomeres function to how DNA can be spliced. In fact the technique of recombinant DNA developed here spawned the entire biotechnology revolution. The accomplishments of UCSF scientists are reflected as well by their success in attracting research dollars.

The UCSF scientific community is welcoming.

UCSF is a place that welcomes diversity. It is a place where the faculty is engaged in the success of each graduate student. UCSF graduate students have ready access to faculty members; work with people of all backgrounds, ages, cultures, orientations, and perspectives; meet and discuss and debate ideas; and hold impromptu meetings with scientists in hallways and cafes.

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What’s student life like at UCSF?

The Student Inside Guide describes:

  • Student life.
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  • Student services.
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