About the Stanford Interdisciplinary PhD Program in Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine

In 2011, Stanford University’s Interdisciplinary PhD Program in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (SCBRM) was the first new School of Medicine doctoral program to be approved by the Faculty Senate in more than 20 years. When chartered, the SCBRM Program also became the first graduate program in the world to offer specialized training at the intersection of basic and clinical science with specific emphasis on Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. 

From basic to translational research. Thesis research by SCBRM Ph.D. students spans the gamut from basic research to translational research, all with implications for stem cell biology and its applications to regenerative medicine. Our program is embracing the spirit of creativity and based on the principle that a detailed understanding of fundamental molecular and cellular mechanisms is the foundation for innovation in clinical translation. We also believe that basic scientists themselves are best at translating their own discoveries. Along those lines, our Ph.D. students explore fundamental mechanisms of how cells signal to one another, such as communication between stem cells and their niches, how the identities of various cell-types are established during development, from stem cells or by induced cellular reprogramming, and how aging occurs in animal models. They also develop efficient therapeutically relevant genome editing strategies, develop next generation, stem cell-based therapies, explore the inherited basis of complex human diseases by introducing genetic variants into cultured stem cells, and directed the in vitro differentiation of stem cells into therapeutically-valuable types of cells. SCBRM Ph.D. students are exposed to, and often exploit, the latest cutting-edge technologies including genome editing, single-cell transcriptional and chromatin analyses, cutting-edge microscopy and advanced stem cell culture systems. It is an exciting time to be immersed in stem cell research and regenerative medicine. 

A diversity of scientific disciplines. The inherent nature of stem cell biology is its interdisciplinarity. Depending on their choice of thesis project and faculty mentor, SCBRM Ph.D. students have drawn upon a number of disciplines—including biochemistry, cell biology, developmental biology, neuroscience, genomics, materials science, bioengineering, and computer science—in order to accomplish their work. SCBRM Ph.D. students thus benefit from the rich diversity of disciplines represented on the highly interdisciplinary Stanford University campus. There are many faculty members on the larger Stanford campus whose groundbreaking advances provide the biological breakthroughs, technologies, and tools for the next generation of treatments and cures.  

Education and research. Our doctoral program provides exceptional didactic education and research experience in the basic sciences underlying stem cell biology. In addition, program participants will receive specialized training in the development and clinical application of discoveries in the basic sciences to achieve regenerative therapies. Our graduates thus will be uniquely positioned to develop successful translational careers in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, and will emerge prepared to deliver on their passion to improve the human condition. Indeed, former SCBRM Ph.D. students have gone on to assume positions in academic research, medicine, biotechnology companies, finance, and other industries. 

Community. The Interdisciplinary PhD Program in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (SCBRM) is a Home Program that is part of the broader Stanford Biosciences “umbrella” program (https://biosciences.stanford.edu/), with two important ramifications. First, our commitment is to fully fund all SCBRM Program students throughout graduate school. Students are encouraged to submit applications for independent funding through NIH, NSF, and other organizations. Second, once admitted to the SCBRM Program, PhD students can ask to rotate with any faculty member in the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (https://med.stanford.edu/stemcell.html), or more broadly, any faculty member at Stanford University. If the faculty member agrees, the student can select a dissertation co-mentor or primary advisor from any department or graduate program.