Physician-Scientist Fellowship Program

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Physician-scientists bridge the ever-widening distance between practicing clinicians and fundamental scientific disciplines. Trained in a multidisciplinary approach, physician-scientists are uniquely equipped to pose questions that link the biomedical sciences to the clinical care of patients, leading to discoveries that enhance human health.

Despite their important role in biomedical discovery, fewer and fewer physicians are dedicating their professional lives to research. A majority of students entering medical school choose a clinical career path (M.D.) instead of seeking to combine the practice of medicine with a mix of basic or clinical research by pursuing an M.D.-Ph.D. Some medical students and physicians subsequently discover a passion for research much later when the M.D.-Ph.D. path has passed and they are nearing the end of their residency. The goals of the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Physician-Scientist Fellowship program are to provide these clinicians with an immersive opportunity to develop their skills in laboratory or computational biomedical research and to help launch the next generation of physician-scientists who have expertise in clinical medicine and a passion for advancing medical knowledge. The fellowship also tests whether there is demand for programs like this and if providing this kind of opportunity will increase the number of physician-scientist trainees.


About the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Physician-Scientist Fellowship Program

Biohub’s unique program is designed for physicians interested in creating new knowledge that addresses challenging problems in human health. Physicians will have an opportunity to work closely with scientists and train in disciplines that promise to transform current paradigms of patient care.

This program will develop the next generation of physician-scientists and equip them with the skills, vocabulary and knowledge necessary to contribute substantively to biomedical discovery. Physician-scientists will be critical to the goal of solving problems previously thought to be impossible.


Program Scope

The Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Physician-Scientist Fellowship program will be an immersive, hands-on experience in biomedical research (laboratory or computational-based) intended as an introduction or as a supplement to prior experience. Most importantly, no prior research experience is required.

The core aspect of the program will be embedding for 22–36 months in the laboratory of a faculty mentor at one of CZ Biohub’s three collaborating campuses (Stanford University, UCSF, or UC Berkeley) – or in one of the intramural research labs at CZ Biohub.

Additional program features include:

  • Orientation before the program begins focusing on expectations, curriculum, and mentor matching
  • Laboratory skills boot camps, including both:
    • A traditional skills-based boot camp
    • Project-based team challenges
  • Rotations (two weeks each) in potential PI mentor labs
  • Support and guidance during the process of mentor selection
  • Program-wide get-togethers for peer-to-peer learning, presentations, and networking


Program Faculty

Faculty from Stanford University, UCSF, and UC Berkeley eligible to serve as Graduate Student Advisors are eligible to serve as mentors. Fellows may also choose to be mentored by a CZ Biohub group or platform leader. Mentors will focus on optimizing career development, meeting regularly to guide training and provide feedback and attending program-wide events and presentations.



The Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Physician-Scientist Fellowship program curriculum will eventually be taught in a peer-to-peer fashion focused on biomedical and clinical research. Fellows will determine topics and meeting cadence with a goal of 35 classes in a calendar year. Fellows can invite faculty members to teach a class up to once per month, with likely topics including:

  • Bioinformatics
  • Coding
  • Developmental biology
  • Gene editing
  • Systems biology
  • Immunology
  • Cell signaling
  • Genomics
  • Proteomics
  • Models of disease
  • Drug development
  • Medical economics
  • Manuscript writing
  • Grant writing
  • Ethics
  • Lab administration
  • Negotiation
  • Seminar presentations
  • Mentoring
  • Career development
  • Clinical/research/life balance


Fellowship Support

Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Physician-Scientist Fellows will be paid according to their ACGME post-graduate scale and commensurate with other fellows/residents in their respective programs. The cost of salary and benefits will be split evenly between CZ Biohub and the home department/division. Awardees will receive an annual stipend for conference travel and other professional expenses.


Program Goals and Outcomes

  • Develop and support a pool of physician-scientists able to:
    • Pose and answer biological questions with high relevance to medicine
    • Converse fluently in the languages of biology and biochemistry, computational biology, technology, and medicine
    • Motivate and direct discovery-based research laboratories
    • Compete effectively for extramural research funds, especially career development or fellow-to-faculty transition awards
  • Help to hone the following skills and attributes:
    • Intellectual and scientific resilience
    • Capacity to manage change
    • Joy for the discovery process
    • Deep understanding of research design, experimental methods, data analysis, and proposal development
  • Serve as a model program that other scientific institutions might adopt and adapt to encourage and develop physician-scientist talent




Dr. Joseph DeRisi is infusing biomedical research with an inventor’s flair. He led the development of a new diagnostic tool called the Virochip, which contains DNA from every known virus and can quickly scan blood or spinal fluid for evidence of infection. A self-described “biologist who is also a serious computer nerd,” his lab at the University of California, San Francisco, is combining an innovative software tool with new genome sequencing technology to develop a prototype diagnostic test that could reveal any infectious disease with near certainty.

Dr. DeRisi employs an interdisciplinary approach to his work, combining genomics, bioinformatics, biochemistry, and bioengineering to study parasitic and viral infectious diseases in a wide range of organisms. He was one of the early pioneers of DNA microarray technology and whole genome expression profiling and is nationally recognized for his efforts to make this technology accessible and freely available. Today, he uses this approach to study the activity of the full range of malaria genes and has generated provocative insights in many emerging viral diseases.

Dr. DeRisi is a professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco. In 2004, he was chosen for a MacArthur Fellowship. In addition to being a Searle Scholar and a Packard Fellow, Dr. DeRisi has received the Heinz Award in Technology, the Economy and Employment and was named an Eli Lilly and Company Research Award Laureate. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2015, and the National Academy of Sciences in 2016. He was also an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute from 2005-2016. He received a B.A. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1992, and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Stanford University in 1999.


Dr. Stephen Quake’s research is at the nexus of biology, physics, and technology development. He has invented many measurement tools for biology, including new DNA sequencing technologies that have enabled rapid analysis of the human genome and microfluidic automation that allows scientists to efficiently isolate individual cells and decipher their genetic code. Dr. Quake is also well known for his work inventing new diagnostic tools, including the first non-invasive prenatal test for Down syndrome and other aneuploidies. His test is rapidly replacing risky invasive approaches such as amniocentesis, and millions of women each year now benefit from this approach. His innovations have helped to radically accelerate the pace of biology and have made medicine safer by replacing invasive biopsies with simple blood tests.

Dr. Quake is the Lee Otterson Professor of Bioengineering and Professor of Applied Physics at Stanford University. He has received numerous awards for his discoveries and has been elected to several scientific honorary societies, including the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, The National Academy of Medicine, and the National Academy of Inventors. He received a B.S. in Physics and M.S. in Mathematics from Stanford University in 1991 and a doctorate in Theoretical Physics from the University of Oxford in 1994. He began his faculty career at the California Institute of Technology in 1996, where he rose through the ranks to become Professor of Applied Physics and Physics. He joined Stanford in 2005 to help found and lead Stanford’s new Bioengineering department as it grew to nearly two dozen faculty members. He was also an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute from 2006–2016.


David N. Cornfield, MD, was appointed the first holder of the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professorship in Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine in December 2005. He is director of the Center for Excellence in Pulmonary Biology at Stanford University, and chief of the divisions of pediatric pulmonary, asthma, and sleep medicine at Stanford University and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Cornfield earned his medical degree from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, and completed his residency at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri where he was pediatric house officer. He later completed his fellowship in pediatric pulmonology and critical care medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver Children’s Hospital and National Jewish Hospital and did postdoctoral training at the Cardiovascular Pulmonary Lab at the University of Colorado, Denver.

Previously, Dr. Cornfield served as professor of pediatrics, physiology and surgery at the University of Minnesota, and director of the division of pediatric pulmonary and critical care medicine and interim head of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital.

The Cornfield lab uses multiple state-of-the art approaches to address fundamental questions related to oxygen sensing, regulation of pulmonary vascular tone, determinants of lung injury, the lung microbiome, the transition of the pulmonary circulation at birth, and the uterine ion channel biology that underlies preterm labor. Areas of research beyond the bench include clinical lung injury, violence prevention in developing countries, microlending in Africa, optimizing the electronic medical record, and training and retention of the next generation of physician-scientists. Funding sources for the Cornfield lab include the NHLBI, NICHD, the American Heart Association, the Burroughs Wellcome Foundation, and the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Dr. Cornfield is an active member of numerous professional organizations, including the American Pediatric Society, American Thoracic Society, American Academy of Pediatrics, and Past President of the Society for Pediatric Research. He serves on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Physiology, Pediatrics, and Pulmonary Circulation. He served as a permanent member of study sections of the

National Institutes of Health (NHLBI, NICHD), the March of Dimes, and the American Heart Association and as a member of AAP committee on pediatric education, PAS advocacy committee, the Burroughs Wellcome Foundation Physician-Scientist Advisory Committee, and the Federation of Pediatric Organizations task force on training and scholarship.

Dr. Cornfield is the recipient of numerous professional honors including the Daniel C. Darrow Award from Children’s Mercy Hospital, the Richard B. Rowe Award for outstanding achievements in perinatal cardiology from the Society for Pediatric Research, the Established-Investigator and Clinician-Scientist Awards from the American Heart Association and the Clinician of the Year Award from the University of Minnesota Medical School and on multiple occasions recognized as an Outstanding Faculty Educator, “Top Pediatrician” and “Best Doctor.”


Dr. Weiss is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and a Principle Investigator in the Cardiovascular Research Institute (CVRI).

Dr. Weiss received his M.D. from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he also completed his internship and residency. He came to UCSF in 1998 to complete his cardiology fellowship and research training.

Dr. Weiss’ clinical interests include prevention, lipids, and the emerging intersection of endocrinology and cardiology with a specific focus on pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes as risk factors for coronary disease. In addition, he has interests in the genetics of coronary disease, cardiovascular risk assessment, nutrition and lifestyle, and heart disease in the young. He works with his patients to use rational and evidence-based approaches — including lifestyle modifications and drug therapy when necessary — to improve cardiovascular risk. His research interests are focused on understanding the mechanisms of metabolic disorders such as obesity, fatty liver disease, and diabetes including the role of growth hormone signaling and lipid metabolism. He also has an active program in clinical nutrition. He has served as Principle Investigator on grants funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). He serves on the scientific advisory boards of multiple companies focused on using technology to favorably impact human health. Lastly, he is a recent co-founder of Keyto Inc., a San Francisco-based company aiming to facilitate the use of the ketogenic diet for weight loss.



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For More Information

Roger Nys

Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Physician-Scientist Fellowship Program Officer