California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences

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FormationDecember 15, 2000; 19 years ago (2000-12-15)
TypeGovernor Gray Davis Institute for Science and Innovation
HeadquartersUCSF Mission Bay campus
  • UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco, UC Santa Cruz
Region served
San Francisco Bay Area
over 220 faculty
Parent organization
University of California
$5 million
approximately 30

The California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3) is a nonprofit research and technology commercialization institute affiliated with three campuses of the University of California in the San Francisco Bay Area: Berkeley, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz. QB3's domain is the quantitative biosciences: areas of biology in which advances are chiefly made by scientists applying techniques from physics, chemistry, engineering, and computer science.


QB3 was founded in 2000 as one of four Governor Gray Davis Institutes for Science and Innovation (originally, California Institutes for Science and Innovation, or "Cal ISIs").[1] From a 2005 article written for the University of California Systemwide Senate:

The Institutes were launched in 2000 as an ambitious statewide initiative to support research in fields that were recognized as critical to the economic growth of the state—biomedicine, bioengineering, nanosystems, telecommunications and information technology. Moreover, the Cal ISIs were conceived as a catalytic partnership between university research interests and private industry that could expand the state economy into new industries and markets and “speed the movement of innovation from the laboratory into peoples' daily lives” (Governor’s Budget summary 2001-02). The four research centers operate as a partnership among the University, state government, and industry, and each involves structured collaborations among campuses, disciplines, academics researchers, research professional, and students.[2]


QB3 is directed by Regis B. Kelly, a neuroscientist and former executive vice-chancellor at UCSF. Kelly's office is in the central QB3 office suite at the UCSF Mission Bay campus. Each participating campus has a QB3 director who also is an active research scientist: at Berkeley, David Schaffer; at UCSF, Nevan Krogan; and at UC Santa Cruz, David Haussler.

Faculty Affiliates[edit]

Research faculty affiliates are the foundation of QB3. QB3 currently has 286 faculty affiliates, with 111 from Berkeley, 95 from UCSF, and 80 from UC Santa Cruz.[3][4] The research interests of these faculty fall under the umbrella of the quantitative biosciences. QB3 scientists tend to be bioengineers, biophysicists, or pharmaceutical or computational biologists. Synthetic biology is strongly represented. Current and former members of QB3 include Shuvo Roy, Elizabeth Blackburn, Steven Chu, Joseph DeRisi, Jennifer Doudna, David Haussler, Jay Keasling, Arun Majumdar, Harry Noller.


QB3 member scientists choose affiliations with one of nine research themes:

  • Biological Imaging: visualizing biological systems at all scales: atoms, cells, organs
  • Biomaterials & Stem Cells: Development of biomaterials and stem cells for biotechnology and therapeutic applications.
  • Biomolecular Structure and Mechanism: structure, function and dynamics of macromolecules
  • Cellular Dynamics: biochemical and biophysical analysis of cellular processes; visualizing biological systems at all scales: atoms, cells, organs
  • Chemical Biology: applying the tools of chemistry to biology, aiding in drug discovery and interrogation of biology
  • Genotype to Phenotype: harvesting the information in genomes and the effect of variation
  • Precision Measurement & Control of Biological Systems: developing the ability to mechanically, optically or chemically alter and monitor biology for interrogation and diagnostics.
  • Synthetic Biology: design, redesign and construction of new biological parts, devices, and systems
  • Theoretical Modeling of Biological Systems: Theoretical and computational analysis of macromolecules, biological systems, and interpretation of experimental data


A major function of QB3 is to make connections between scientists in different disciplines and between entrepreneurial scientists and business mentors and venture capitalists. QB3 administers buildings custom-designed to facilitate interaction and core facilities intended to bring together researchers from different fields. QB3 also provides networking services for applied research and technology commercialization.[5] QB3 is not a technology transfer office and does not handle patent applications.


QB3 assists life science entrepreneurs in the San Francisco Bay Area seeking to commercialize their research.

  • Pre-Commercial Funding

QB3 supports basic and applied research on the biology of aging-related disease through its partnership with Calico (company).[6]

  • Incubators

QB3 operates one full-service incubator (QB3@953) and two campus incubators, and is a partner in an affiliated shared med/tech laboratory (StartX-QB3 Labs) near the Stanford campus in Palo Alto.

The QB3 Garage@UCSF was founded in September 2006[7] in Byers Hall on the UCSF Mission Bay campus, and the QB3 Garage@Berkeley was launched in April 2010 in Stanley Hall on the UC Berkeley campus.[8] The Garages offer laboratory space to spinoff companies affiliated with the University of California. Garage tenants pay market rates for increments as small as 120 square feet (11 m2) and have the opportunity to use QB3 core scientific facilities (but pay standard rates). There is a time limit of two years for occupancy.

In April 2011, QB3 and Wareham Development, a real estate company, announced that a 9,300-square-foot (860 m2) space in west Berkeley would house the QB3 East Bay Incubator, which launched in June 2011.[9] The status of the QB3-EBIC as a multi-company space is currently uncertain.

In May 2013, QB3 and Dewey Land Company announced a partnership to renovate and outfit a 24,000-square-foot (2,200 m2) former warehouse in San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood as a full-service life science incubator. The building, "QB3@953," opened in October 2013.[10] Now fully occupied, the building houses about 45 startups. (The number fluctuates as tenants leave and move in.)

In August 2014, QB3 and StartX announced a partnership in a med/tech incubator, named StartX-QB3 Labs, located near the Stanford campus and Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto. It has the capacity to house 16 companies.[11]

In Fall 2019, UC Santa Cruz launched Startup Sandbox in west Santa Cruz near Natural Bridges State Park, providing bioscience entrepreneurs business training and an incubator to launch their companies and productize their research.[12] Startup Sandbox is currently housing 28 biotech and bioscience startups.

  • Seed-Stage Venture Funding

In 2009, QB3 director Regis Kelly and associate director Douglas Crawford established Mission Bay Capital, LLC (MBC),[13] a venture capital firm currently with $36 million under management. MBC's portfolio currently includes Redwood Bioscience,[14] a company based on "aldehyde tagging" technology developed in the UC Berkeley laboratory of professor Carolyn Bertozzi, now at Stanford; and Calithera,[15] a cancer therapeutics startup launched by UCSF professor Jim Wells.

  • QB3 Collaborative Startups

In May 2013 QB3 announced a partnership with major industry allies Bayer, Novartis, Pfizer, and Roche to identify and fund promising life science startups in the San Francisco Bay Area.[16][17]

  • QB3 Startup in a Box

The QB3 Startup in a Box program provides scientist-entrepreneurs with resources to start a company, such as legal advice and banking services.[18]


QB3 is involved in a number of educational initiatives.

  • UC Berkeley Biophysics: In 2012 QB3 became administrators of the biophysics graduate (PhD) program at UC Berkeley.
  • Graduate Program in Computational and Genomic Biology: QB3 is affiliated with the doctoral program in computational and genomic biology at UC Berkeley.[19]
  • Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC): Sends a team to the annual International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition. Administrated by QB3.[20]
  • Undergraduate Internships: At QB3-Berkeley, staff coordinate undergraduate summer internships with biotech companies in the Bay Area.[5]

QB3 does not offer accredited courses, nor does it hire faculty.

Campus sites[edit]

In July 2011, QB3 announced that it was reorganizing internally to concentrate entrepreneurial activities and industry partnerships into a division called the InnoLab, and that the campus sites would focus on academic research.[21]

  • UCSF: Byers Hall on the Mission Bay campus. Byers Hall, officially opened in 2005,[22] also currently hosts the QB3 director's office and QB3 central administration. Many faculty labs are in Genentech Hall, an adjoining building.
  • UC Berkeley: Stanley Hall (although many QB3 faculty labs are located elsewhere on campus)
  • UC Santa Cruz: QB3 forms part of the Genomics Institute, and is headquartered in the Westside Research Park.[23] The space was formerly owned by Texas Instruments as a semiconductor wafer fabrication plant. The facilities include a total of approximately 242,000 gross (154,000 net) square feet, including a large "clean room," a specially designed supercomputer center, and extensive space used for classrooms, laboratories, and offices.


  1. ^ Governor Gray Davis Institutes for Science and Innovation Archived 2010-05-27 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2013-11-24.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Faculty Affiliates". California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  4. ^ Archived 2011-12-08 at the Wayback Machine. QB3. Retrieved on 2013-11-24.
  5. ^ a b "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-10-28. Retrieved 2011-12-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^
  7. ^ Biotech babies born in 'Garage' - San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved on 2013-11-24.
  8. ^ ‘Garage’ incubator expands to UC Berkeley campus - San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved on 2013-11-24.
  9. ^ QB3 houses mavericks both old and new - San Francisco Business Times. (2011-04-15). Retrieved on 2013-11-24.
  10. ^ [1].
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Startup Sandbox | Bioscience Incubator | Santa Cruz". Startup Sandbox. Retrieved 2020-10-06.
  13. ^ Mission Bay Capital. Mission Bay Capital (2012-10-30). Retrieved on 2013-11-24.
  14. ^ Protein-Chemical Design for Optimized Conjugate Therapeutics. Redwood Bioscience. Retrieved on 2013-11-24.
  15. ^ Calithera BioSciences. (2013-10-29). Retrieved on 2013-11-24.
  16. ^ Roche, QB3 target life sciences startups in funding plan - San Francisco Business Times. (2013-05-17). Retrieved on 2013-11-24.
  17. ^ Bayer inks startup matchmaking deal with QB3, Mission Bay Capital - San Francisco Business Times. (2013-05-15). Retrieved on 2013-11-24.
  18. ^ QB3 unwraps ‘Startup in a Box’ - San Francisco Business Times. (2011-09-23). Retrieved on 2013-11-24.
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-04. Retrieved 2011-07-14.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^
  23. ^ McGirk, James. "Biotech blooms on Santa Cruz's westside". UC Santa Cruz News. Retrieved 2020-10-06.

External links[edit]