Program Overview

The SSPB Graduate Program, housed in the Rice Synthetic Biology Institute (RSBI), is designed to provide students the knowledge and tools that they will need to solve hard research questions and to apply their discoveries to the development of biotechnologies that transform agriculture, electronics, energy, the environment, information storage, medicine, and manufacturing. Our program was established collaboratively by faculty in Engineering and Natural Sciences who share the belief that breakthrough discoveries in biological research and biotechnology now require problem-solving that integrates experimental biochemical, cellular, and genetics approaches with computational design, simulation, and modeling. To provide students the tools that they will need to be world-class investigators, our core curriculum covers three synergistic topics:

  • Synthetic Biology — the “bottom-up” construction of biomolecules and cellular systems and their applications to increasing our understanding of biological processes and enabling new biotechnologies.
  • Systems Biology — the emergence of functional properties in complex biological systems that are not presented by the individual components (genes, transcripts, enzymes, and metabolites).
  • Physical Biology — the development of models that anticipate the properties of natural and synthetic cellular systems by integrating biology with chemistry, physics, mathematics, and computer science.

The most exciting part of the SSPB program is the discoveries that our students are making through their interdisciplinary scholarship. Coming from a diverse range of disciplinary backgrounds, our students are unified in a common interest in interdisciplinary approaches to problem-solving, the development of a strong foundation in the life sciences, and the integration of biological inquiry with rigorous, quantitative mathematics and physics.

I encourage you to review the research projects of the faculty associated with the SSPB Graduate Program. Our faculty and students interact closely with departments in the Schools of Natural Sciences and Engineering at Rice University, and they have numerous collaborations with the Texas Medical Center. Please let us know if you have any questions!

SilbergJonathan (Joff) Silberg
Director, SSPB Graduate Program
Professor of Biosciences, Bioengineering, and
Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering