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Grad student retreat highlights cutting edge of chemical biology

7th Annual Chemistry/Biology Interface (CBI) Retreat celebrated our diverse community of grad students and their research at Sarafan ChEM-H.

The 7th Annual Chemistry/Biology Interface (CBI) Retreat was held at the Palo Alto Event Center, and saw attendance from more than 70 current and former CBI graduate students, undergrads, postbacs, postdocs, faculty mentors, staff, and other members of our community. 

The CBI program recruits grad students from Stanford's Schools of Humanities and Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and is dedicated to supporting those doing innovative human health research at the interface of chemistry and human biology. It offers students interdisciplinary training opportunities such as monthly seminars, professional development activities, and an annual research retreat. The program has had a big impact on the makeup of the biomedical workforce since its founding a decade ago. It has successfully trained nine cohorts comprising 108 students, and 30 of those individuals have graduated and pursued scientific careers. 

“One of the things I am most proud of about this program is that half of our students have joined a lab outside their home department. I think this is a testament to the power of the CBI Program in training the future leaders of human health research,” said Carolyn R. Bertozzi, CBI Program Director and Baker Family Director of Sarafan ChEM-H. Her opening remarks at the event celebrated the diverse, interdisciplinary CBI grad student community, their achievements and research.

Thereafter, distinguished guest Alanna Schepartz, UC Berkeley, was invited to a fireside chat with Bertozzi. The conversation delved into her career journey, the significance of mentorship, and how science and research have progressed over time. Schepartz urged the audience to embrace what they don’t know. 

The retreat also featured lightning talks by Sarafan ChEM-H/IMA postbac researchers, presentations by CBI graduate fellows, and an inspiring keynote by Alanna Schepartz entitled ‘Encodable Protein Editing’. In her lecture, she encouraged exploring what could happen if we looked beyond alpha-amino acid backbones to expand the chemistry of the proteome.

The all-day event ended with closing remarks from Carolyn Bertozzi, a poster session showcasing research by Sarafan ChEM-H students and postdocs, and an outdoor reception.

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