Skip to content Skip to navigation

Department Overview


The Bioengineering Department is creating a fusion of engineering and the life sciences that promotes scientific discovery and the invention of new technologies and therapies through research and education.

Our mission includes advancing bioengineering as a fundamental engineering discipline grounded in basic sciences, powered by a unique set of engineering concepts and principles, and capable of realizing many diverse applications.  In realizing our mission, we must capitalize on the unique history and strengths of Stanford and become a model for bioengineering worldwide. 

Overarching goals of our department include:

  • To develop bioengineering as a fundamental engineering discipline
  • To realize many new applications of bioengineering, including in diagnostics, therapeutics and manufacturing
  • To develop and distribute effective and innovative educational programs and materials that enable our students and others to become leading practicing bioengineers
  • To become a center of entrepreneurial and translational research
  • To enable our graduates to become leaders across all sectors of society including academia, industry and public service

Strategic vision

Knowledge of the basic physical principles of living matter — from microbes to plants and animals — is growing at an unprecedented rate, creating a special moment at the intersection of science, technology and medicine. For example, the first total synthesis of an entire eukaryotic chromosome was recently reported; we anticipate that by 2020, the de novo design and construction of many forms of living matter will be routine. Such developments, catalyzed in part by our faculty, represent a major opportunity for the School of Engineering and the School of Medicine, and have broader implications for the entire university.

On the one hand, living matter will soon become a standard part of every engineer’s toolbox, with applications in materials synthesis, computing, energy and climate. On the other, we foresee that major challenges in human health, whether prevention or treatment, will be increasingly addressed by engineering approaches that combine powerful tools such as synthetic biology, precision control and measurement, genomics, big data and machine learning.

Consistent with these medical, scientific and technical opportunities, our educational programs are experiencing rapid growth on all levels. Major long-term investments made in previous years, especially the development and refinement of an almost entirely new teaching curriculum, first at the graduate, and more recently at the undergraduate level, are now reaping dividends. We will soon graduate 50 undergraduates and 30 PhD students per year.

Beyond finding ways to match student demand and teaching in an area with numerous major discoveries and inventions per year, our key strategic goal is to position our university as the undisputed leading engine of bioengineering. Just as Stanford critically enabled the computer science and electronics industry throughout the last century, we aim to enable the development of bioengineering as the next economic driver for our society.