Some of the most exciting discoveries to come out of the sciences, at UC Berkeley or anywhere else, are made at the interfaces between multiple fields. Physics and biology are two such fields. It takes an adventurous scientist to seek training in these two fields at the same time. But the impact, when they are brought together, is extraordinary. The Biophysics Graduate Group at Berkeley exists to train aspiring trans-disciplinary researchers to build bridges from biology to physics and back, so that they can transform biology by bringing to it the quantitative rigor and power of physics.

We are cognizant that there are many ways to apply quantitative, physics-based approaches to biology, and the program is designed to be flexible to accommodate these. The program is independent from traditional single-discipline departments and draws on a membership of approximately 60 faculty based in many different departments. As part of the flexibility built into the program, students can also choose to work with faculty who are not members of the Biophysics Graduate Group. If independence, flexibility, and the power of the rigorous cross-disciplinary approach of biophysics appeal to you, we invite you to apply!

Why Biophysics @ Berkeley?

Biophysics at Berkeley is special. UC Berkeley is a big place, and with our neighbor Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory across the street and up the hill, the physics and biology resources are immense. Almost any scientific instrument or resource you might ever need is right here, from the Advanced Light Source on down. At Berkeley, we have a uniquely collaborative culture. When you are trying to bridge two disciplines as different as physics and biology, access to collaborations is critical. Finding expertise in the most specialized techniques takes just a stroll down the hall or across campus.

These resources and our collaborative culture have contributed to multiple breakthroughs coming from the laboratories of Berkeley Biophysics faculty members and the work of past Biophysics graduate students. These include the discovery of the CRISPR-Cas9 system for genome editing that is transforming biology, and the launch of the cryo-electron microscopy revolution that is reshaping structural biology.

(Cryo-EM Bootcamp 2021! Photo by P. Grob)

Finally, we are different from our top-ranked peers in that Berkeley is a public institution. As such, we are committed to maximizing access to training at the highest level of excellence to those who will most benefit from it, coming from all kinds of backgrounds.

The Biophysics Graduate Group is a member of the QB3-Berkeley Program in Quantitative Biosciences, and is also part of the Division of Biological Sciences. Click here and here (pdf/brochure) for more information on biology programs at Berkeley.

Current News

2020 Student Research highlight: Robert Rietmeijer of the Brohawn Lab describes high-resolution reconstructions of the pH sensing ion channel TASK2. Read more here on the QB3 Berkeley website.

Some 2018 accomplishments so far: Ehud Isacoff selected as a member to the National Academy of Sciences; Jennifer Doudna receives the 2018 NAS Award in Chemical Sciences & the 2018 Pearl Meister Greengard Prize by The Rockefeller University & shares the 2018 Kavli Prize in Nanoscience; Ke Xu and Denis Titov are awarded NIH Director’s New Innovator Awards; John Kuriyan and Barbara Meyer elected to the National Academy of Medicine; Eunyoung Park was named a 2018 Vallee Scholar; Polina Lishko joins the ranks of the Bakar Fellows; Eva Nogales is awarded the 2018 Sandra K. Masur Senior Leadership Award by the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB). And recent Biophysics graduate, Dr. Jasmine Nirody, is awarded the American Physical Society’s 2018 Award for Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Research in Biological Physics.

In memoriam: Longtime Biophysics Group member and pioneer in the field, George Oster, passes at 77.

more 2017 accomplishments: Jamie Cate elected to the AAAS; Hernan Garcia receives a New Innovator Grant; Susan Marqusee is honored with the Stanford Medicine Alumni Association’s prestigious Arthur Kornberg and Paul Berg Lifetime Achievement Award in Biomedical Sciences.

2/2017, Thirteen Berkeley faculty receive CZ Biohub awards, including four Biophysics Faculty!  Congratulations to – Markita Landry, Aaron Streets, Dan Fletcher and Ke Xu.

2/2017, Ahmet Yildiz receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science.

2/2017, Jennifer Doudna and collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier are awarded the Japan Prize for their invention of CRISPR-Cas9.

10/2015, Biophysics graduate Joshua Levitz receives the Nemko Prize in Cellular or Molecular Neuroscience by the Society for Neuroscience. For more about this accomplishment, click here.

6/2015, Eva Nogales is the recipient of the Protein Society’s Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Award: granted in recognition of exceptional contributions in protein science which profoundly influence our understanding of biology.

2015 notables: Andy Martin selected to HHMI, Ke Xu named Bakar Fellow, Carlos Bustamante elected to AAAS, Eva Nogales named to NAS, John Kuriyan elected into Royal Society.

1/2015, Biophysics graduate Anna Schneider is named one of Forbes’ 30 under 30: Energy. For more information, please click here.

11/2014, Jennifer Doudna and two teams of cosmologists led by Nobel Laureates Saul Perlmutter and Adam Riess, a former UC Berkeley post-doc, were named 2015 Breakthrough Prize winners in life sciences and physics, respectively. For more information, please visit the UC Berkeley News Center.
10/2014, George Oster, faculty in ESPM and Biophysics, is awarded the Sackler Prize in Biophysics. For more information, please visit the Sackler Prize announcement website.

6/2014, Kelly Clancy, a recent Biophysics graduate, wins the Regeneron Prize for Creative Innovation. For more information, please click here.

As you consider Berkeley as your possible home for graduate research, there are a few important FAQs to keep in mind concerning graduate funding. Click here for more information.

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