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Mailing Address
SSPB Program
Rice University
6500 Main Street, MS-180
Houston, Texas 77030-1400

Physical Address
Ph.D. Program in Systems, Synthetic, and Physical Biology
Suite 170 BioScience Research Collaborative (BRC)
Rice University
6500 Main Street
Houston, Texas 77005


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  • Two-lock box delivers cancer therapy
  • Many bodies prompt stem cells to change
  • Synthetic gene circuits pump up cell signals
  • Cancer researchers find key protein link
  • Rice synthetic biologists shine light on genetic circuit analysis
  • Fish found common genetic ground to develop electric organs
  • Cell membrane proteins give up their secrets

Welcome to the Ph.D. program in Systems, Synthetic, and Physical Biology (SSPB)

Systems, Synthetic and Physical Biology (SSPB) is a new field that combines experimental and theoretical approaches to solve both fundamental and applied problems in the biosciences, biotechnology and medicine. SSPB is emerging as one of the most important areas of life sciences of this century. While the past several decades have been dubbed the Information Age, the coming era will likely be a biological one where organisms are engineered to produce new medicines, fuels and materials. In order to reach the potential of engineered biological systems, we must first understand the organizing principles of life. SSPB researchers operate at this interface, aiming to understand the molecular language of life, so that new biological functions can be reliably designed. For more information regarding this program, click here.

2013 students 
The inaugural 2013 SSPB class (from left to right, front row: Dongya Jia, Juexiao Wang, Felix Ekness, Brianna Kuypers, Qian Mei; from left to right, top row: Tyler McLaughlin, Josh Atkinson)  


Research Spotlight

Jeffrey J. Tabor, Ph.D.
Jeffrey J. Tabor, Ph.D.
Dr. Tabor and co-workers engineered E. coli to compute the edges, or light/dark boundaries, of an image of light projected onto a Petri Dish. To do this, genetic circuits programming the bacteria to sense light, communicate, and process information between neighbors were combined in the cell. This is an example of programming synthetic multicellular behaviors, an area of interest in SSPB. »


Josh Atkinson is one of 18 Rice students recently awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.
Click here for full story!