UCSF

NSF funds ‘blue sky’ bioengineering center to be based at UCSF

Center aims to unite Bay Area synthetic biologists, engineer biological machines

The National Science Foundation has awarded $24 million over five years for a new ‘blue-sky’ bioengineering center based at UC San Francisco. Known as the Center for Cellular Construction, the new initiative aims to transform the field of cell biology into a quantitative discipline and to adapt tools from engineering, the physical sciences, and computer science to design automated machines out of living cells.

“This is my lifelong dream,” said Wallace Marshall, PhD, a professor of biochemistry and biophysics at UCSF who will serve as director of the new center. Marshall says he has always looked for a way to combine his childhood loves of engineering and biology, citing a 1981 article in OMNI magazine which described fantastical biological computers: “The idea was that you could build computers and other machines using biological building blocks. That’s exactly what our new center will try to do.”

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CCB, Bioinformatics, Biophysics

About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy aims to solve the most pressing health care problems and strives to ensure that each patient receives the safest, most effective treatments. Our discoveries seed the development of novel therapies, and our researchers consistently lead the nation in NIH funding. The School’s doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree program, with its unique emphasis on scientific thinking, prepares students to be critical thinkers and leaders in their field.