A grassroots movement among Stanford faculty – inspired and led by many people, including James Spudich, Bill Mobley, Channing Robertson, Steven Chu, and Lucy Shapiro – resulted in a bold enterprise known as Bio-X, created to facilitate interdisciplinary research and teaching in the areas of bioengineering, biomedicine, and bioscience.
In September of 1998, Provost Rice and Vice Provost Kruger created a Planning Committee consisting of faculty from the schools of Engineering, Medicine, and the Humanities and Sciences. This group developed Stanford Bio-X, and, thanks to a significant lead gift from James H. Clark as well as additional support from Atlantic Philanthropies, the concepts and the construction of a radical new interdisciplinary research building came to life in 2003.
Since its establishment in 1998, Bio-X has operated across all seven schools and has charted a new approach to life science research by bringing together the combination of experts – medical doctors, scientists, engineers, and others – needed to tackle the complexity of the human body. With its home base in the James H. Clark Center, Bio-X operates both literally and figuratively at the crossroads of medicine, science, and engineering, drawing faculty and students from all seven schools across the university.
The Clark Center, which houses 45 state-of-the-art labs, is specifically designed to encourage purposeful and serendipitous encounters among faculty and graduate students to foster fruitful collaborations. It serves as the physical embodiment of Bio-X and is a magnet engaging over 600 Stanford faculty to study life systems at levels of complexity ranging from the molecular to the behavioral. Bio-X furnishes these collaborators with critical resources – seed grants, graduate fellowships, undergraduate student support, and venture funds – to undertake very early-stage research. Like an incubator, Bio-X provides the organizational structure and angel funding to try bold new ideas that are too unproven and interdisciplinary for traditional funding agencies.
What began as a bold experiment is now a demonstrated success. Research fostered by Bio-X has attracted global attention and produced amazing results, including breakthrough technologies and entirely new fields of study.