Leadership Update: Chair of Department of Bioengineering

November 10, 2022

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to share that Jennifer Cochran, PhD, has accepted the position of Stanford University Senior Associate Vice Provost for Research. In transitioning to this role, Jennifer will step down as Chair of the Department of Bioengineering effective January 1. Markus Covert, PhD, Professor of Bioengineering, will assume the role of chair.

Jennifer’s five-year tenure as chair was defined by her strong emphasis on collaboration and enthusiasm for research, discovery, and translation. These traits were crucial to the Department of Bioengineering’s continued ascent as it reached new levels of excellence. After becoming chair, she orchestrated a period of faculty hiring for bioengineering that energized and transformed the department, recruiting exemplary candidates who bring diversity of scholarship, seniority, background, and life experiences. Jennifer also launched a far-reaching effort to broaden the department’s mission beyond biomedicine and public health to include research exploring planetary health and how it impacts all life.

In addition to being an effective leader, Jennifer is a prolific inventor and serial entrepreneur with key expertise in developing novel protein therapeutics for oncology and regenerative medicine applications. She and her research team have created a number of therapeutic molecules that are advancing for clinical use, including an engineered protein currently in Phase III clinical trials for treating ovarian cancer. She will continue this transformative work and her role as Faculty Director of the Innovative Medicines Accelerator Protein Therapeutics Initiative.

I look forward to continuing to work with Jennifer in her new role as Senior Associate Vice Provost for Research, and am excited to see what she will accomplish for the university community. In her new position, she will do what she does best: encourage and strengthen collaboration for research initiatives. Her scope will be campuswide, including between Stanford and SLAC, and with external entities, including private, public, and international organizations.

In the new year, Markus will begin his term as chair of the Department of Bioengineering – using his deep knowledge of our institution and the field of bioengineering to build on the department’s preeminence. For more than a decade, Markus has been an extraordinarily productive member of our bioengineering faculty. In 2012, his team published a paper about its production of the first complete computer model of an organism, accomplishing a long-standing goal in the field. The journal Cell listed it as one of the most important papers in its 40-year history. Markus also has advanced the field of live-cell imaging, creating a deep-learning method to analyze the imagery and developing a technique that enables researchers to trace cellular behavior inside a single cell.

Markus has also demonstrated extraordinary leadership and mentorship throughout his time at Stanford Medicine. Since becoming Director of Graduate Studies in Bionengineering in 2018, for example, he has combined a strong vision that has challenged students through rigorous coursework and research opportunities and found new ways to inspire and cultivate their intellectual curiosity.

With extensive connections within the schools of Medicine and Engineering and across the university, a strong history of developing future leaders, and a dedication to ushering in a new era of bioengineering, Markus has the institutional knowledge, vision, and commitment to collaboration that will help build on the department’s momentum and success.

Please join us in thanking Jennifer for her tremendous contributions to the Department of Bioengineering and in congratulating Markus for his new position.


Lloyd Minor, MD
Dean, Stanford School of Medicine