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Jennifer Cochran appointed chair of bioengineering

Jennifer Cochran, whose research focuses on development of new technologies for high-throughput protein analysis and engineering, succeeds Norbert Pelc.

- By Bruce Goldman

Jennifer Cochran

Jennifer Cochran, PhD, has been appointed chair of Stanford’s Department of Bioengineering, which is jointly operated by the School of Medicine and School of Engineering. Her five-year term begins Sept. 1.

“This department has an amazing energy due in no small part to its faculty, students and staff,” said Cochran, associate professor of bioengineering. “These individuals — nearly 500 of them, in all — have an unwavering commitment to research, learning and service, and they exude a spirit of collegiality and collaboration that permeates our department and the broader Stanford community.”

Cochran’s research is interdisciplinary, integrating chemistry, engineering and biophysics. Her laboratory focuses on protein-based drug discovery for applications including oncology and regenerative medicine, and the development of new technology for high-throughput protein analysis and engineering.

‘A superb scholar and educator’

“In addition to being a superb scholar and educator and a proponent of deeper connections with Silicon Valley’s burgeoning biotechnology activities, Jennifer is an enthusiastic, dynamic individual who will bring exciting leadership to the department and be a key contributor to the schools of Engineering and Medicine,” Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine, and Jennifer Widom, PhD, dean of the School of Engineering, said in a joint statement.

Cochran will succeed Norbert Pelc, ScD, professor of bioengineering, who has chaired the department since 2012. “Norbert’s vision and leadership has brought the department to new heights,” Minor and Widom said. “The remarkable strength of our still relatively new Bioengineering Department reflects Norbert’s tireless work and deep dedication.”

Cochran earned a PhD in biological chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2001. After a postdoctoral fellowship at MIT in biological engineering, she arrived at Stanford in 2005 as an assistant professor of bioengineering. In 2012, she was promoted to associate professor. She also advises cancer biology and biophysics graduate students and serves as director of the Stanford National Institutes of Health Biotechnology Predoctoral Training Program and as co-director of the Stanford National Institute of Standards and Technology Predoctoral Training Program.

Interdisciplinary training

The Department of Bioengineering includes more than 30 tenure-track faculty, 70 postdoctoral scholars and 200 graduate students with a variety of backgrounds and interests.   

“Now, more than ever, interdisciplinary training and awareness is critically needed for bioengineering to be broadly productive and impactful. Stanford excels in this arena,” Cochran said.

“One of my goals is to work with students, staff and faculty to build stronger connections with Silicon Valley and the world at large,” she added. “I’d also like to help enable the department to tackle new technology developments and innovations in biotechnology, medical devices, mobile health and data and measurement science, and forge new connections in areas such as agriculture, environment, humanities, policy and the arts.”

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