School of Engineering
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Hong Seh and Vivian W. M. Lim Professor in the School of Engineering and Professor, by courtesy, of Neurobiology and of Bioengineering
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsWe conduct neuroscience, neuroengineering and translational research to better understand how the brain controls movement, and to design medical systems to assist people with paralysis. These are referred to as brain-machine interfaces (BMIs), brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) and intra-cortical neural prostheses. We conduct this research as part of our Neural Prosthetic Systems Lab (NPSL) and our Neural Prosthetics Translational Lab (NPTL), which I co-direct with Prof. Jaimie Henderson, M.D.
BioProfessor Smolke's research program focuses on developing modular genetic platforms for programming information processing and control functions in living systems, resulting in transformative technologies for engineering, manipulating, and probing biological systems. She has pioneered the design and application of a broad class of RNA molecules, called RNA devices, that process and transmit user-specified input signals to targeted protein outputs, thereby linking molecular computation to gene expression. This technology has been extended to efficiently construct multi-input devices exhibiting various higher-order information processing functions, demonstrating combinatorial assembly of many information processing, transduction, and control devices from a smaller number of components. Her laboratory is applying these technologies to addressing key challenges in cellular therapeutics, targeted molecular therapies, and green biosynthesis strategies.
Hyongsok Tom Soh
Professor of Radiology (Early Detection), of Electrical Engineering and, by courtesy, of Chemical Engineering and of Bioengineering
BioDr. Soh received his B.S. with a double major in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science with Distinction from Cornell University and his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. From 1999 to 2003, Dr. Soh served as the technical manager of MEMS Device Research Group at Bell Laboratories and Agere Systems. He was a faculty member at UCSB before joining Stanford in 2015. His current research interests are in analytical biotechnology, especially in high-throughput screening, directed evolution, and integrated biosensors.
James H. Clark Professor in the School of Engineering and Professor of Chemical Engineering and of Bioengineering
BioProfessor Swartz received his first lessons in resourcefulness and persistence growing up on a farm in South Dakota. After earning a BS in Chemical Engineering with Highest Honors from S. Dak. School of Mines and Technology, he began his professional career with Union Oil Co. of CA in Casper, Wyoming. Serving in the Drilling, Reservoir Engineering, and Production Departments provided an appreciation of the complexity and importance of large scale energy technologies. That experience also strengthened his belief that biological technologies offered the power and versatility to better address evolving societal needs. The MIT graduate programs in chemical engineering (MS) and biochemical engineering (Dsc) helped strengthen his biological training while broadening an appreciation for this emerging field. Following a 3 month exchange visit to the Soviet Union, he gained additional experience at Eli Lilly and participated in the development of the first recombinant DNA pharmaceutical to be approved, rDNA insulin. After two years, he moved to Genentech to help establish their drug production capability, developing the fermentation process for their first product, rDNA growth hormone.
After 17 years at Genentech in various line and project leadership positions, he joined the Stanford Chemical Engineering Department with a focus on an embryonic technology called cell-free protein synthesis (CFPS). Multiple technology breakthroughs from his lab motivated the founding of Sutro Biopharma which now has four promising anti-cancer drugs in clinical trials. A new company called Vaxcyte later spun out of Sutro to focus on complex human vaccines enabled by CFPS. Both companies are now publicly traded. Another company, GreenLight Biosciences, is focusing on inexpensive, large scale RNA production for use against agricultural pests. At Stanford, Professor Swartz is now focusing on expanding the basic capabilities of cell-free bioprocess while also developing technologies for targeted drug development, vaccines, circulating tumor cell assays, the carbon negative production of commodity biochemicals, and for economically attractive photosynthetic hydrogen production.