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CMAD group meeting September, 2016

The Center for Molecular Analysis and Design (CMAD) at Stanford is advancing the frontiers of chemistry and chemistry-driven research through an innovative graduate training program. CMAD, in its essence, is a recognition of the changing and exciting times in which we live, and the complexity of the scientific problems before us in the new millennium – a ‘Center’ without walls in which scientifically enabling partnerships are forged to address major problems and opportunities of the 21st century. The Center was founded with the view that advances in all scientific disciplines increasingly rely on a deeper understanding of the relationship between molecular structure and function, and on our ability to capitalize on this knowledge to design and synthesize molecules. Chemistry and chemists must lead.

As a discipline, Chemistry is uniquely disposed to provide solutions to many of the major problems of our time. Chemistry affords the language and methodology to integrate all sciences for which advances rely on molecular insights. CMAD attempts to leverage the power of ‘molecular thinking’ in ways that benefit all types of research at Stanford, and is thus different from other ‘Centers’ in that it does not attempt to define a single programmatic goal. Representative problems being pursued by CMAD scientists include research on: biofuels and renewable energy sources; energy storage; nanomaterials for sensing technologies; development of precision tools for biology and medicine; biopolymers for reconstructive surgery; ‘smarter’ diagnostics for medical imaging; bioorthogonal catalysis; drug delivery and ‘targeted’ chemotherapeutics. Solutions to such problems are intrinsically molecular and will require manifold innovations in structural analysis, structural design, and chemical catalysis. Fresh insights, which lead to breakthrough discoveries, are most likely to distill from the mixing of researchers whose talents cross multiple boundaries.

The Center for Molecular Analysis and Design at Stanford creates a multi-investigator, ‘holistic’ model for graduate education, encouraging adventurous students to develop their own ideas and incentivizing them to forge collaborations between different research groups to achieve their scientific goals. Regular meetings give students the opportunity to vet their ideas and to share their progress with CMAD members whose collective expertise spans multiple disciplines. The Center attracts curious, forward-thinking students who have broad interests in science and who enjoy learning about new problems, even those that may be far-removed from their own field of study.

The entrepreneurial, risk-taking environment of the Stanford campus and its historic and ongoing partnership with the surrounding Silicon Valley attracts the best and brightest minds, those with the vision and the intellectual audacity to define the future. The Chemistry Department at Stanford and CMAD are seeking students who dare to dream big and who have the enthusiasm and determination to make differential discoveries of benefit to science and society.


"As a CMAD Fellow at Stanford, I carried out some of the most exciting research of my career. Our work addressed mysteries that had been in the literature for decades, and involved the application of cutting edge analytical physical chemistry techniques to questions at the forefront of organometallic methodology development -- disciples where cross-disciplinary collaboration may be rare. This unique collaboration captured the imaginations of other scientists as they decided who to interview for faculty positions, and, made it possible for me to get to know Professors Zare and Du Bois, who remain my roll models and mentors. I suspect this research made it possible for me to land my dream job as a faculty member at Duke."

-Jennifer Roizen, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Duke University


"CMAD provided a way to learn about research beyond my own group, and to find sometimes unexpected areas of overlap in scientific questions or new tools to advance my projects."

-Gabriela Schlau-Cohen, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at MIT


"CMAD has opened my eyes as to what other science is being done on campus, and where perhaps my skill set in organic chemistry could have an impact. I don’t think that I would be doing the research I’m doing now if I didn’t have the information and help that I got from the collaborations [that CMAD initiated]."

-James Walker, Scientist in Process Development at SAFC


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