The David Rockefeller Graduate Program


I have a lot of independence, but also help when I need it. I don't know the answers yet, but I've got a promising way to start looking for them."

Faculty & Research

The university's faculty tackle scores of different biological problems, but they all have one thing in common: they're here for the science. Whether studying individual cells, model organisms, human beings or entire populations, Rockefeller's scientists are working to explore the inner workings of life and are attempting to unravel the causes of disease. The questions they ask and the experiments they perform, although they vary, are all in service of expanding knowledge, and the results they generate have opened up new fields and overturned long-held dogma. It's this emphasis on inquiry and discovery above all else that sets Rockefeller apart from its peers and that has sustained its excellence over more than 100 years. At Rockefeller, the formula for success is to hire only the best scientists and to give them the resources and freedom they need to do their best work. The result is a faculty that's passionate, curious, energetic and more than a little brilliant — and a culture that supports high-risk projects and rewards intellectual curiosity.

Faculty Mentors

At Rockefeller, students have over 70 laboratories to choose from and are free to explore their interests before settling on one. Regardless of which lab they choose, students will be sharing the bench with the world's preeminent scientists, participating in the innovative research that has earned Rockefeller's faculty its prestigious reputation. Rockefeller faculty members have relatively little to distract them from their work. The university's small size and lack of departmental structure mean that faculty have fewer administrative duties. As a result, they are able to spend most of their time running their labs and serving as collaborators and mentors.

Taken as a whole, the faculty has a record of achievement that is virtually unmatched in academia. Faculty throughout the university's history have been recognized with 20 National Medal of Science awards, 17 Canada Gairdner International Awards, 21 Albert Lasker Medical Research Awards and an impressive 24 Nobel Prizes, four recipients of which are currently on the faculty. Nearly half the current faculty are members of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, and 16 have been elected to the Institute of Medicine. Rockefeller's junior faculty members also have a remarkable record of obtaining competitive grants and receiving coveted fellowships to recognize promise and leadership in research.

Rockefeller faculty regard students as colleagues and work to create an open environment where ideas and independence are encouraged.

Research Areas

Centered around 73 cutting-edge laboratories working in a broad range of fields, The Rockefeller University fosters a collaborative research environment and provides an innovative educational experience for its select group of outstanding graduate students. To help reduce artificial barriers and provide its investigators with the greatest degree of freedom, Rockefeller does not have departments. Its laboratories are, however, loosely clustered into nine distinct research areas:

Clinical and Translational Research

The connection between basic research and clinical investigation is an essential feature of Rockefeller's culture. While it is well recognized that discoveries at the bench can lead to effective new therapies, it is equally true that research that probes the cause of disease in patients can lead to important discoveries about the basic processes of life. At Rockefeller, moving research between lab and clinic is facilitated by one of the country's only stand-alone research hospitals.

An independent, central unit of the university since its opening in 1910, The Rockefeller University Hospital provides a vital facility to study the scientific basis of disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention. It provides infrastructure, services and support to allow scientists to explore the medical significance of their work without the barriers and bureaucracy typical of large teaching hospitals. Close to half of the university's labs are now conducting protocols that involve human subjects, and of these labs, more than a third are headed by Ph.D. scientists, not medical doctors. The hospital's unique environment is well suited for long inpatient stays, facilitating the study of pathologic processes in patients and normal physiological processes in healthy volunteers.

Research at the hospital, which celebrated its centennial in 2010, has resulted in some major contributions to public health, including development of the oxygen chamber, methods for blood transfusion and storage, methadone therapy and multiple-drug treatment of HIV infection.