Block lab at Stanford University

Principal investigator

Steven Block

A picture of Steve Block

Professor Block holds the Ascherman Chair in the Depts. of Applied Physics and Biology at Stanford. He's best-known as a founder of the field known as "single molecule biophysics." Block holds degrees from Oxford and Caltech, and served as faculty at the Rowland Institute and Harvard, then Princeton, prior to joining Stanford in 1999. Block is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and is a Fellow of the AAAS, the APS, and the BPS. His research lies at the interface of physics and biology, particularly in the study of biomolecular motors, including kinesin and RNA polymerase, and the folding of nucleic acid-based structures. His group pioneered the use of laser-based optical traps to study the nanoscale motions of biomolecules. In what's left of his spare time, he enjoys skiing and playing bluegrass music on the banjo and mandolin.

Postdoctoral researchers

Anirban Chakraborty

A picture of Anirban Chakraborty
Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Rutgers University, 2013

I joined the Block lab in 2013. I am currently working with Arthur Meng to analyze RNA polymerase II mediated regulation of gene expression. I received my Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry from Rutgers University in 2013. At Rutgers University, I worked under the supervision of Prof. Richard Ebright. For my graduate dissertation, I performed single-molecule fluorescence experiments to analyze bacterial RNA polymerase clamp conformation. Prior to joining Rutgers University, from 2005-2007, I worked for as an Associate Scientist at AstraZeneca India Pvt. Ltd. There, I was involved in characterization and evaluation of potential drug targets against Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In addition to single-molecule Biophysics, I enjoy photography, tennis and travelling.

Graduate students

Andrew Savinov

A picture of Andrew Savinov
B.Phil. in Chemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Pittsburgh, 2011

I received my B. Phil. in chemistry and molecular biology, with a minor in physics, from the University of Pittsburgh in 2011. For my undergraduate honors thesis research under the direction of Prof. Graham Hatfull, I performed a genetic and biochemical investigation of Bxb1 gp47, an unusual recombination directionality factor used by the bacteriophage Bxb1 to control the decision to remain integrated into or be excised from the bacterial host's genome. Bxb1 infects Mycobacterium smegmatis, a fast-growing relative of and model for M. tuberculosis.

I come to biophysics by way of a keen interest in biology. Throughout my studies I have grown increasingly fascinated with how biological systems work at the fundamental, molecular level, and how biological behavior is built up from this foundation. This interest in "bottom-up" biology led me to study molecular biology, biochemistry, chemistry, and physics as an undergraduate. Armed with this multidisciplinary background, I entered Stanford's Biophysics Program in 2011.

I joined Prof. Steven Block's group in 2012, excited to make high-resolution measurements of macromolecular folding and biological function atthe single-molecule level. For my Ph.D. thesis I am studying folding (co- and post-transcriptional) and catalytic activity in a ribozyme system.

Bojan Milic

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B.S. in Biology and Chemistry, Stanford University, 2013

I completed my undergraduate studies at Stanford, where I received a B.S. in Biology and Chemistry. I first joined the Block Lab in early 2010 as an undergraduate, where I developed an interest in studying biological phenomena at the single-molecule level. Working with Johan Andreasson, I spent most of my time in lab trying to understand how kinesin, a motor protein that transports cargo in cells, is able to travel micron-scale distances along intracellular highways called microtubules without dissociating. After graduating, I was fortunate enough to get to stay at Stanford as part of the Biophysics Program. I rejoined the Block Lab in late 2013, where I am currently continuing my work on kinesin.

Daniel Hogan

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B.S. in Physics, Caltech, 2013

In 2013, I graduated from Caltech with a B.S. in Physics. As an undergradute, I worked with Prof. Mitchio Okumura on precision spectroscopy of small molecules using cavity ringdown spectroscopy and photoacoustic spectroscopy. My research supported NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory mission, which endeavours to create a global map of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

I entered Stanford's Applied Physics program and joined the Block lab in 2013. I am building a next generation optical trap and working on transcription dynamics.

Former students