The UCSF Sandler Fellows Program brings exceptionally promising young scientists to UCSF in a special capacity, in which they establish independent research programs with the sole mandate to do their best science. Fellows are small group leaders with Principal Investigator status in the University, which enables them to obtain extramural grants to support the growth of their programs, and thus are of a special class of "Faculty Fellows" markedly distinct from traditional postdoctoral fellows. This program seeks recently graduated Ph.D.'s or M.D.'s whose potential as investigators indicates they would benefit from a sheltered independence. Institutional support is granted for five years, in part through the generous support of the Sandler Foundation, the Systems Biology Program, and QB3, and is sufficient to maintain a small laboratory of two to four members. UCSF Sandler Fellows enrich our interactive intellectual community with their enthusiasm and sole focus on research, and are at the same time mentored by our community. Former and current Fellows have been resoundingly successful in formulating extraordinarily creative and vital research programs. The combination of independence, singular focus, and effective mentoring facilitates the development of remarkable young scientists, who are becoming the next generation of scientific leaders, both at UCSF and in the larger biomedical research community.
Several other well-established Fellows programs around the country, including those at the Whitehead Institute, Carnegie Institution, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, have similar aims yet distinct intellectual environments. UCSF is known for its collegial spirit, wide breadth of biological and medical sciences, and interdisciplinary approaches, characteristics ideally suited to the concept of the Fellows program. We encourage the best and brightest students and postdocs to explore the nomination procedure with their current mentors.
Impact of the Program: Former UCSF Sandler Fellow Hana El-Samad studies the origins of non-genetic stochasticity in cellular behaviors, powered by novel computational and experimental methods that allow measurement of single-cell quantitative dynamics of gene circuits. El-Samad says that: "The foundational infrastructure for our cutting-edge multidisciplinary approach was laid during my appointment as a UCSF Sandler Fellow. The Fellows program provided me with the freedom to explore new intellectual directions as well as generous funding to establish our high-risk, but high-impact, research program."