Stanley N. Cohen Lab

Stan Cohen's Lab is located in the Department of Genetics at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Stan holds an appointment in Stanford’s Department of Medicine in addition to his primary appointment as Professor of Genetics. During five decades of basic research at Stanford in the fields of genetics and molecular biology, and also on some aspects of computational biology, he and his Lab have mentored almost 200 young scientists. These trainees have continued to contribute to medical science at academic institutions in the U.S. and abroad and to the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. A single concept underlying the Lab’s teaching efforts has been the pursuit of excellence in research by identifying important scientific and medical problems, addressing them with innovative, well-designed, carefully executed, and rigorously interpreted studies, and importantly, defining appropriate follow-up questions and experiments.

Historically, the initial scientific goal of the Cohen Lab was to understand the genetic and molecular mechanisms that underlie plasmid-borne antibiotic resistance in bacteria. The studies that were designed and carried out to investigate such resistance resulted in the invention of DNA cloning—which was developed originally to identify plasmid genes that encode specific antibiotic resistance traits. Subsequent research has focused on the regulatory role of RNA in gene expression and of host genes that bacteria and viruses exploit to produce disease; we have been interested particularly in understanding how individual variation in these genes affects pathogenicity and drug resistance. In unrelated experiments our Lab has concurrently investigated ways to interfere selectively with the expression of genes that contain expanded nucleotide repeat sequences—which are implicated in certain neurodegenerative disorders such as Huntington’s Disease (HD). Results of our HD experiments turned our attention to development of microvesicle-based methods for delivering large molecules to targeted sites. We plan to limit the currently-foreseeable size of our Lab to no more than 10 people.