UCSD BMS: Welcome to the Scientific Neighborhood!


By Kanaga Arul Nambi Rajan

Are you interested in the UCSD Biomedical Sciences graduate program? Good choice! BMS is a great umbrella program that encompasses many areas of study. These include genetics & genomics, molecular pharmacology, microbiome & microbial sciences, immunology, molecular cell and developmental biology, cancer biology, structural and chemical biology, stem cell biology and many more. Given the research diversity within our program, BMS students can work with faculty from many different UCSD departments (e.g. Pharmacology, Cellular & Molecular Medicine, Pathology, Bioengineering, Chemistry and Biochemistry) and its affiliated institutes (UCSD School of Medicine, Skaggs School of Pharmacy, Moores Cancer Center, Scripps Institute of Oceanography). This alone provides BMS students the freedom to work with numerous wonderful faculty and resources.

However, did you know that the breadth of the BMS science community extends beyond UCSD? One of the many exciting benefits of BMS being located in lovely La Jolla (besides the easy access to beaches) is that UCSD is part of a larger La Jolla-wide scientific neighborhood. In the “La Jolla Mesa”, there are several other research institutions conducting groundbreaking research. Excitingly, there are 7 institutions that are home to some BMS faculty! Each of these institutions specialize in different research areas including, but are not limited to, cancer, stem cell biology, immunology and genomics. With BMS faculty affiliated with these institutions, this provides both incoming and current BMS students the opportunities to work with great scientists and be part of groundbreaking research.

Since the list can be daunting, we have listed the institutes in the neighborhood along with just a few examples of the BMS faculty affiliated with each:


total map


Sanford-Burnham-Prebys Medical Research Institute (SBP)

Following its mantra “From Research, the Power to Cure,” SBP has been a leading force burnhamin the research community for 35 years. The institute focuses on understanding the molecular basis for disease to develop innovative therapies. Current research programs include cancer, neurodegeneration, diabetes and infections, inflammatory and childhood diseases.

BMS Faculty: Rolf Bodmer, Guy Salvesen, Alexey Terskikh, Dorit Hanein, Elena Pasquale, Evan Snyder

Salk Institute for Biological Studies

salkSince its opening in 1963, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies maintains a reputation for scientific excellence that was first set by its namesake, Jonas Salk. Today the Salk is home to a community of scientists who conduct revolutionary research in the areas of aging and regenerative medicine, cancer biology, immunology, metabolic disorders, neuroscience and plant biology.

BMS Faculty: Ronald Evans, Marc R. Montminy, Charles Stevens, Greg Lemke

La Jolla Institute of Allergy and Immunology (LJI)lji2

LJI is devoted to the study of immunology in response to infections agents, cancer and immune system disorders. Since its launch in 1988, it has been home to world-renowned scientists whose current research pushes medicine forward in hopes of enhancing prevention, treatment and cures for numerous immunological diseases.

BMS Faculty: Shane Crotty, Anjana Rao

Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine (SCRM):

SCRM is built on the foundation of “collaborative, multi-disciplinary interactions.” scrm (my photo)Together, SCRM scientists study stem cells to advance biomedical research and regenerative medicine. Scientists in the consortium come from UCSD, LJI, Salk, Burnham and TSRI to work together to conduct groundbreaking stem cell research.

BMS Faculty: Larry Goldstein, Maike Sander, Adam Engler, Karl Willert, Gene Yeo, Tannishtha Reya

Ludwig Cancer Research

The Ludwig Cancer Research is a worldwide community, with 13 ludwiglocations worldwide. The San Diego branch of the Ludwig Institute is located on the UCSD campus.  The local branch focuses on cancer genetics, cell signaling, gene regulation and cell division mechanisms.

BMS Faculty: Kevin Corbett, Arshad Desai, Frank Furnari, Karen Oegema, Bing Ren, Don Cleveland

Scripps Research Institute (TSRI)

tsriTSRI is one of the world’s largest, private non-profit research organizations. There are currently two campuses, one in Jupiter, Florida and the other here, in La Jolla. The local campus is internationally known for its research in immunology, molecular and cell biology, chemistry, neuroscience, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases, virology and synthetic vaccine development.

BMS Faculty: Jerold Chun, James Quigley, Bruce E. Torbett

J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI):

Established in 2006, JCVI is a recent addition to our neighborhood. It resulted from the merger of The Institute of Genomic Research, The venterCenter for the Advancement of Genomics, The J. Craig Venter Science Foundation, The Joint Technology Center and The Institute for Biological Energy Alternatives. Now, with more than 250 scientists and staff, the JCVI is now a multidisciplinary, genomics-focused research institute. The La Jolla location is one of two (the other two being in Rockville, Maryland).

BMS Faculty: Nik Schork

With all of these institutions clustered in La Jolla, this scientific neighborhood is rich in not only quantity but also the quality of scientists. This results in a scientific community that fosters collaborations that stretch beyond institutional borders. Educate yourself about our scientific community! Regardless of whether you end up working at one of these institutions, there are numerous possibilities to collaborate, attend seminars and learn about great science. All of these institutions are filled with great resources and great scientific minds that can help enrich your science and graduate school experience!


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