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About Stanford ChEM-H

John Todd

Chemistry, Engineering & Medicine for Human Health

The Promise of the Chemistry-Human Biology Interface

Stanford ChEM-H will bring together chemists, engineers, biologists, and clinicians to understand life at a chemical level and apply that knowledge to improving human health. The term ChEM-H serves as both shorthand for an emerging interdisciplinary area of chemistry that we seek to foster and an acronym for the fields it encompasses (harnessing Chemistry, Engineering, and Medicine to understand and advance Human health). ChEM-H builds on Stanford’s extraordinary talent in the Schools of Humanities & Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, as well as its proximity to the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, to explore this new frontier at the interface of chemistry and human biology.

Chemistry has traditionally been a field that delves into the fundamental structure and function of matter at an atomic level. While chemists have made notable contributions to biology in the past century, recent advances that capitalize on the fruits of the human genome project have created an exciting new frontier for chemical study—humans. By leveraging the unique strengths of chemistry, Stanford ChEM-H will add a qualitatively new dimension to our understanding of who we are as a species and as individuals. This new biological focus for chemistry will also drive the engineering of molecules, materials, and measurement tools that help understand humans and treat disease.

Training a new type of scientist

To succeed, Stanford ChEM-H will need to educate a new generation of researchers who are fluent in both chemistry and biology. These scientists will think like engineers as they recognize and address challenges relevant to medicine. Stanford ChEM-H will fund fellowships and run programs to train these students.

Bridging disciplines

The institute will also hire faculty who span the worlds of chemistry, biology, engineering and medicine. These faculty will create the nucleus of Stanford ChEM-H. They will also serve as a bridge between the tools and ideas of chemistry and mission of understanding and advancing human health.  Seed grants funded by Stanford ChEM-H will further the connections and cross-fertilization between the worlds of chemistry, biology, engineering, and medicine.

Ultimately, the institute’s programs will launch a new cadre of “hybrid” physician-scientist-engineers whose chemical expertise and experience will help guide academia, industry and society as they grapple with persistent and emerging challenges in human health.