Investigator Program

“The CZ Biohub has chosen some of Berkeley’s best and most innovative researchers, who offer an amazing breadth of expertise. This first cohort of Investigators illustrates the potential and promise of the CZ Biohub to push the boundaries of biomedical research, and to accelerate the development of breakthrough scientific and medical advancements, applications and therapeutics for the public’s benefit.”
Nicholas Dirks
Chancellor, UC Berkeley


“The extraordinary promise of the CZ Biohub is being realized today with the announcement of a remarkably talented group of researchers from our three campuses. These Investigators are each working at the leading edge of science. Support from the CZ Biohub will drive exciting new collaborations across biomedical science, engineering, and computational science to attack some of the biggest unsolved problems in biology and human health.”
Sam Hawgood
Chancellor, UCSF


“The research by these extraordinary scientists receiving CZ Biohub awards exemplifies the exciting opportunities that lie in collaborative research at the intersection of biology and engineering. We look forward to the new discoveries benefiting human health that will be made possible by their collaborations.”
Marc Tessier-Lavigne
President, Stanford University

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Adam Abate, PhD.

Abate builds new technologies to enable complex biological systems to be understood quantitatively and comprehensively, as illustrated by his development of the picoinjector to inject very small volumes of reagents into droplets at high rates. He is now developing ways of printing organ-like structures by the precise placement of different cell types at defined positions.


Jillian Banfield, PhD.

UC Berkeley
Banfield is uncovering the vast diversity of microorganisms that depend on co-existing microbial community members for most core metabolic resources and has discovered two major evolutionary radiations, one in bacteria and the other in archaea. She is exploring the medical, industrial, and ecological significance of these newly found microorganisms.


Catherine Blish, MD, PhD.

Blish aims to build an atlas of host-pathogen interactions to serve as a template to elicit immune responses that will promote pathogen eradication. She seeks to understand how to control the innate immune response mediated by NK and other cells to eliminate infections and develop more potent methods of protection.


Carlos Bustamante, PhD.

Bustamante is making the transition from population genetics to a new area, the integration and analysis of massive data coming from consumer, health care, and financial sources. He is especially interested in bringing together direct-to-consumer genetics and phenotype data in a secure space that can be explored by academic, industry, and citizen scientists.


Adam de la Zerda, PhD.

De la Zerda’s goal is to image 100 million cells in living tissues at single-cell resolution by using optical coherence tomography. One of the potential uses of his technique will be to visualize cancer markers to delineate the margins of tumors.


Hana El-Samad, PhD.

El-Samad analyzes the control of feedback loops, a fundamental underpinning of life, to understand their interconnected architecture and predict their failure modes in disease. She is embarking on a major effort to build de novo synthetic circuits consisting of biomolecules that can implement feedback control on demand.


Daniel Fletcher, PhD.

UC Berkeley
Fletcher studies how cells assemble molecular-scale parts into micron-scale structures necessary for cell motility, cell-cell signaling, and host-pathogen interactions. He plans to launch a new effort to map the topography and spatial organization of cell-cell surfaces, starting with macrophages in their interactions with tumor cells.


Polly Fordyce, PhD.

Fordyce will develop new biochip technologies for high-throughput functional characterization of proteins to enhance our ability to predict the function of a protein given its amino acid sequence. Her aim is to characterize the properties of more than a thousand proteins, such as enzymes and transcription factors, in a single experiment.


Adam Frost, MD, PhD.

Frost uses atomic-resolution cryo-electron microscopy in concert with biochemistry, genetics and live imaging to advance our understanding of how cellular machines function normally, how they are corrupted by disease, and how they are hijacked by infectious pathogens. His studies of protein quality control may lead to new targets for the therapy of infectious diseases.


Judith Frydman, PhD.

Frydman uses multidisciplinary approaches to gain a comprehensive understanding of the complex networks mediating protein homeostasis, the maintenance of protein quality. She plans to map the proteostasis network involving more than a thousand proteins, and use this information to develop a new class of therapeutic agents for dengue, Zika, and other viral diseases.


Zev Gartner, PhD.

Gartner aims to define the rules used by cells to self-organize into structurally ordered tissues, and to reveal how tissue structure guides the flow of information between cells to coordinate decisions and behaviors. He is developing a system to quantitatively measure how the local density of mesenchymal cells and their tractions affects the curvature of overlying tissue.


Bryan Greenhouse, MD.

Greenhouse addresses fundamental questions about the transmission of malaria to better target and evaluate interventions to control the disease by combining field studies in infected areas with advanced molecular genetic studies in the laboratory. He is using more sensitive parasite detection, parasite genetics to track infections, and antibodies as a record of past exposure.


William Greenleaf, PhD.

Greenleaf studies the physical and spatial organization of the human genome at multiple scales and across different biological states. His aim is to unravel the quantitative relations between regulatory elements and gene expression in a massive parallel way to generate a quantitative model of the regulatory wiring of cells.


Lisa Gunaydin, PhD.

Gunaydin seeks to elucidate the cellular and circuit mechanisms underlying major psychiatric diseases. She will carry out optogenetic studies of a genetic mouse model of obsessive-compulsive disorder to elucidate the patterns of abnormal neural activity as a first step in intervening to restore normal behavior.


Amy Herr, PhD.

UC Berkeley
Herr is designing, developing, and disseminating tools to quantify biological complexity, from the level of biomolecules to tissues, using novel engineering approaches. She is focusing on protein cytometry, as exemplified by single-cell electrophoresis followed by antibody probing to simultaneously achieve high specificity and high sensitivity.


Bo Huang, PhD.

Huang has visualized the dynamics of chromosomal organization by multicolor imaging and has developed super-resolution microscopic methods for mapping proteins in key cellular structures. He plans to develop a fluorescence-microscopy-based approach for the discovery and chacterization of cell signaling networks, particularly those involving G-protein coupled receptors.


Martin Kampmann, PhD.

Kampmann’s goal is to understand the molecular mechanisms driving neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. He is developing cell-based models of neurodegenerative disease processes in human induced pluripotent stem cells and is carrying out CRISPRi screens to identify underlying neuron-specific processes.


Brian Kobilka, MD.

Kobilka’s pioneering x-ray crystallographic studies have revealed how the binding of a hormone to the extracellular pocket on a G-protein coupled receptor is transmitted across the cell membrane to trigger a signaling cascade. He is now carrying out structural studies of opioid receptors to identify more effective painkillers with fewer side effects.


Tanja Kortemme, PhD.

Kortemme is developing a platform technology to computationally engineer novel biological components that convert the sensing of diverse and currently undetectable small molecule signals into cellular responses. She is devising ways of making CRISPR-based gene editing switchable by small molecules.


Markita Landry, PhD.

UC Berkeley
Landry is developing new nanosensor technology and near infrared imaging platforms to visualize neurotransmitters in the living brain at high spatial and temporal resolution. She will focus on deep brain imaging of dopamine as an initial step in furthering our understanding of psychiatric disorders.


Jure Leskovec, PhD.

Leskovec studies massive complex networks at a very wide range of scales, from interactions of proteins in a cell to interactions between humans in a society. He is devising new computational network tools to enhance patient care through social support, facilitate the diagnosis of disease by wearable sensors, and promote positive behaviors conveyed by social networks.


Hiten Madhani, MD, PhD.

Madhani is exploring whether cells maintain epigenetic memory, mediated for example by the methylation of cytosine residues in DNA, over evolutionary timescales. He is characterizing extant DNA methyltransferases, particularly those involved in fungal virulence, to trace their evolution and to engineer cellular memory devices.


Michel Maharbiz, PhD.

UC Berkeley
Maharbiz explores the ways that miniaturized technology and biology can be threaded together to create novel clinical devices that interface with the human body and provide real-time information about molecular and physiological states. He invented neural dust as a general platform for reading and writing data to tiny (~100 micrometer) implants that are activated by ultrasound.


Alex Marson, MD, PhD.

Marson is developing genome editing technologies to understand how sequence variation in the human genome alters and controls T cell immune function. He aims to engineer a new generation of targeted therapies for autoimmune disorders, immunodeficiencies, and infectious diseases.


Rikky Muller, PhD.

UC Berkeley
Muller is developing new wireless microsystems that directly interface with the brain for long-term, minimally-invasive neurological recording. Her broad goal is to engineer novel implants that can simultaneously sense and alter physiological responses to enable drug delivery and the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders.


Katherine Pollard, PhD.

Pollard studies the microbiome of humans, the microorganisms and viruses harbored by us, to determine its role in shaping the health of people and their responses to therapeutic agents. Her laboratory has just released prototype open source software that quantifies microbial population genetic variation using metagenomics data and will scale it for use by hospitals.


Ada Poon, PhD.

Poon aims to find new ways of miniaturing bioelectronic devices, targeting specific neural circuits in vivo, and supporting closed-loop monitoring and manipulation of neural circuits. Her bioelectronics platform integrates electrical stimulation and recording with optogenetic stimulation and will be used to study neural circuits in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.


Matthew Porteus, MD, PhD.

Porteus uses genome editing as curative therapy for genetic diseases, as exemplified by his correction of the mutation in sickle cell disease in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. He is now combining genome editing with synthetic biology to engineer cells having new phenotypic properties, such as engineering resistance to HIV and enhancing wound healing.


Manu Prakash, PhD.

Prakash develops measurement tools, such as ultra-low cost microscopy platforms for field diagnostics of infectious diseases, for use in extreme resource-poor areas of the world. His aim is to devise new frugal platforms for the diagnosis and surveillance of schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis, and malaria.


Oren Rosenberg, MD, PhD.

Rosenberg uses structural biology and microbial genetics to discover and exploit molecular vulnerabilities in bacteria for the development of next-generation therapeutics. He focuses on bacterial virulence systems that mediate interactions with the mammalian host in his search for new targets.


Kole Roybal, PhD.

Roybal explores how T cells orchestrate a vast signaling network during their activation in the immune response. He will focus on the dynamics of synthetic notch receptors and other signaling domains to devise new ways of controlling immune function in cancer therapy.


Elizabeth Sattely, PhD.

Sattely plans to merge engineering and detailed knowledge of plant biochemical pathways to enhance human health. Her specific goal is to engineer strains of the most widely consumed dietary plants, such as maize and wheat, to improve their nutrient content and to then test the effect of a diet rich in these strains on the health of rodents.


Kim Seed, PhD.

UC Berkeley
Seed carries out epidemiologic studies of the interactions between bacteriophages and Vibrio cholera in samples obtained from cholera outbreaks to enhance our understanding of how these viruses shape the communities of these pathogens and affect infectivity. She will also determine how microclimates impact phage-host interactions.


Lucy Shapiro, PhD.

Shapiro has established the bacterium Caulobacter cresentus as a powerful model organism for understanding self-organization and spatially controlled differentiation leading to daughter cells with different cell fates. She is developing a reaction-diffusion model that includes all essential cellular process to gain a deeper understanding of asymmetric cell division and cell polarity.


Christina Smolke, PhD.

Smolke is engineering yeast to produce complex, valuable plant-inspired medicinal compounds like those widely used as antihypertensives and anticancer agents. She interacts with experts in plant-specialized metabolism to identify gene clusters that can be inserted into her optimized yeast platform to accelerate the discovery of new therapeutic agents.


Tom Soh, PhD.

Soh has devised sensors capable of continuously monitoring specific biomolecules in vivo and a control system for achieving real-time closed-loop controlled drug delivery in live animals. He plans to generate detection systems for hitherto untargetable biomolecules and to develop real time sensors that can be implanted in vivo to detect multiple biomolecules that are medically important.


Yun Song, PhD.

UC Berkeley
Song has derived novel mathematical formulas and new analytical techniques for inferring demographic history from population genetic data and for increasing the power of genome-wide natural selection scans. He is using new probabilistic models to elucidate the dynamics of protein initiation and elongation on ribosomes, and has recently moved into computational immunology.


Aaron Streets, PhD.

UC Berkeley
Streets will develop optical and microfluidic methods to carry out chemical and transcriptional profiling of single-cells in whole tissues with preservation of positional information. He will use stimulated Raman scattering microscopy for determining chemical composition and laser-assisted microfluidics for transcriptional profiling.


Alice Ting, PhD.

Ting develops, scales up, and broadly disseminates molecular technologies for mapping cells and functional circuits, as illustrated by her biotin-based method for protein mapping in living cells. She is devising methods for identifying the ensemble of neurons that encode or control a specific memory, behavior or emotional state by using a light- and calcium-gated transcription factor.


Laura Waller, PhD.

UC Berkeley
Waller’s goal is to develop simple and inexpensive microscopes that can image previously inaccessible information using computational microscopy, the joint design of imaging system hardware and software. She is now working on the challenging problem of 3D imaging in scattering media, such as deep structures of the brain, essential for unraveling neural activity.


Taia Wang, MD, PhD.

Wang studies human immunity and susceptibility to viral pathogens such as dengue virus. Her research is driven by the finding that humans have diverse immunoglobulin Fc domains that affect the severity of viral diseases and the effectiveness of vaccines.


James Wells, PhD.

Wells is tackling the fundamental question of how cells remodel their surface proteomes, encoded by about 3000 genes, in response to changes in state, disease, and therapeutic intervention. He is developing robust quantitative proteomics methods for profiling cell surfaces and generating recombinant antibodies to membrane proteins on an industrialized scale to address this challenge.


Ke Xu, PhD.

UC Berkeley
Xu is developing novel super-resolution microscopy methods with a resolution below 10 nm that are revealing new ordered structures, such as a periodic cytoskeleton in nerve axons. His next step is to obtain functional information from super-resolution microscopy by combining it with multi-color fluorescence spectroscopy.


Ellen Yeh, MD, PhD.

Yeh studies the apicoplast, a unique organelle in Plasmodium falciparum parasites, to identify new targets for the prevention and therapy of malaria. She aims to comprehensively identify the apicoplast proteome and to understand the novel secretory pathways of this unusual plastid in her search for novel therapeutic targets.


Nir Yosef, PhD.

UC Berkeley
Yosef uses computational tools to understand how transcription is regulated in mammalian cells and to learn how changes in transcription are associated with different cell-states or diseases. He seeks to develop data-driven approaches for defining the key factors that contribute to cell-to-cell variability with a focus on the cellular diversity of the immune system.


Wenjun Zhang, PhD.

UC Berkeley
Zhang is engineering the biosynthesis of natural products by exploiting novel enzymatic machinery for synthesizing many unique pharmacophores and molecular scaffolds. She is developing a general platform for the in situ tagging of natural product mixtures to enable subsequent visualization by fluorescence imaging or stimulated Raman scattering microscopy.


James Zou, PhD.

Zou develops novel machine learning tools that enable researchers to make complex predictions and quantify disease mechanisms using population genomics and epigenomics data. He is devising new deep learning models to increase the accuracy of predicting genetic risk from genotypes and of identifying distinct cell populations based on single cell transcriptional profiles.

Joe DeRisi

University of California, San Francisco

Stephen Quake

Stanford University

At CZ Biohub, we create opportunities for individuals to reach their full potential. We do this by bringing together brilliant scientists and engineers who see opportunities in every challenge. These individuals are united by a common passion – solving previously impossible problems.