"Ideas are valued at UCSF. Whether they come from a graduate student or a senior professor, a good idea is a good idea. Once the spark is made, we work collaboratively on the path towards discovery."
— Nairi Hartooni, PhD student, Tetrad


The Tetrad graduate program prepares students to pose and address fundamental research problems in modern biology. The program highly values curiosity-driven research that investigates challenging questions in life sciences conducted in a collegial and scientifically rigorous manner. The program places special emphasis on modern approaches within three core and interrelated areas listed below. The research conducted under the Tetrad umbrella encompasses a wide range of structural, molecular, cellular, physiological, and pathophysiological questions.

The Tetrad program was among the first graduate programs nationwide to break down barriers between disciplines; emphasis on interdisciplinary research remains a guiding principle of the program. Hand-in-hand with promoting interdisciplinary research is the program's emphasis on fostering a strong sense of community and interactions among students and the program's cadre of internationally recognized scientists. Program activities include an annual retreat held in Lake Tahoe, a weekly seminar program featuring top scientists from around the world, and multiple other activities that provide student/faculty interactions in both formal and informal settings.

All Tetrad graduate students go through the same admission process, take the same classes, and have the same requirements. Depending on the specific aspects of their thesis work, their PhD degree will be in one of the indicated areas below.


Over 120 faculty members are associated with the Tetrad program, representing all of the basic science departments of UCSF; numerous research centers such as the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Cardiovascular Research Institute at UCSF, and the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases; as well as numerous clinical departments.

Tetrad is a member of the Program in Biological Sciences (PIBS) at UCSF.


biochemistry and molecular biology
cell biology

The Tetrad program office is located at the Mission Bay campus, though some classes and labs affiliated with the program are at the Parnassus campus as well.

The Tetrad program is offered by the UCSF Graduate Division, administered by the UCSF Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, and delivered by faculty members in the UCSF schools of dentistry, medicine, and pharmacy.


Program Coordinator
Toni Hurley

Program Co-Directors
Natalia Jura, PhD
David Toczyski, PhD