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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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  • Ian Hamilton, Alvin Chi and Kiri Kilpatrick, students working in the lab of Laura Segatori


  • Holley Love, Duncan Eddy and Rahul Rekhi, students of Amina Qutub's lab

  • Michael W. Deem, Director of SSPB, and his student Jiankui He (PhD in 2010)

  • Jianpeng Ma & his team on epigenetics: Qinghua Wang, Jianpeng Ma, Brian Kirk, Jia Zeng & Yufeng Gou  

  • Manan Mehta (undergraduate), bioengineer Jonathan Silberg and research technician Shirley Liu

  • Michael Kohn and graduate student Ying Song

  • Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities

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.

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)

The SSPB Ph.D. program at Rice University trains students to combine principles from science, technology, engineering and mathematics in order to make transformative discoveries and advances in biological engineering. SSPB students are highly interdisciplinary, with strong foundations in the quantitative and life sciences. SSPB faculty come from 8 different departments across the Schools of Engineering and Natural Sciences. The curriculum is designed to provide students from diverse backgrounds exposure to a breadth of biological and quantitative topics. The curriculum includes three newly designed core courses in Systems Biology, Synthetic Biology, and Physical Biology, at least two advanced courses in computer science, physics, applied mathematics or statistics, and two courses focusing on a biological subject within the area of a student’s dissertation research. Students joining the SSPB program are expected to have prior training in biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics, statistics, or physics.

For more information regarding this program, click here.

Research Spotlight

Rice to genes: Why the wait?
Rice to genes: Why the wait?
E. coli bacteria, shown growing in a microfluidic device, will be one focus of a Rice University study to understand how delays in gene transcription affect cellular processes. Microfluidic devices allow researchers like Matthew Bennett and his lab to track how gene expression patterns of individual cells change over time. »


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


Center for Theoretical Biological Physics Spring Seminar Series 
April 15, 2014
Jie Xiao, Johns Hopkins University
12:30 - 1:30 PM, BRC 10th Floor
Click here for details.