Seth Shipman and his team develop innovative strategies to manipulate cells for discovery and therapeutic purposes. Using CRISPR, Shipman developed a way to record the order in which genes turn on in a living cell. Now the team is using that technology to understand how the order of gene expression during development drives the formation of different cells types and tissues. They’re also building brain circuits from the ground up, using stem cell–derived neurons as starting material, to understand the mechanisms by which neurons communicate. These studies are crucial to understanding both normal brain development and neuropsychiatric disease.

Disease Areas

Mitochondrial Disorders
Neurodegenerative Diseases
Neuropsychiatric Diseases

Areas of Expertise

CRISPR and Genome Editing
Stem Cells and iPS Cells
Synthetic Biology
Technology Development
Working in the Shipman lab

Lab Focus

Developing molecular technology to understand gene expression over time in living cells, and to overcome technical roadblocks in our understanding of development and disease.
Leveraging the potential of synthetic DNA sequences to store information, rewrite the genome, and reshape the transcriptome of living cells.
Creating neural circuits from the ground up to uncover the fundamental basis of neuronal connectivity in the brain.

Research Impact

The philosophy driving Shipman’s research is to identify a technical limitation in a given field and tackle it with innovative approaches borrowing from diverse fields, such as bioengineering, genetics, systems and synthetic biology, neuroscience, microbiology, and chemical biology. With this mindset, Shipman addresses the fundamental question of the relative timing of gene expression with a technology that logs a record of sequential events in the DNA of living cells. His lab is also getting at the fundamentals of neuronal connectivity using single neurons in culture and a battery of genome modification tools to identify the minimal gene set required for neurons to establish functional circuits.


Professional Titles

Assistant Investigator, Gladstone Institutes

Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, UC San Francisco


Shipman holds a BA in neuroscience from Wesleyan University and a PhD in neuroscience from UC San Francisco, where he worked with Roger Nicoll to understand the molecular events that drive formation of synapses in the brain. His graduate work uncovered how a family of adhesion molecules, called neuroligins, can influence both synaptogenesis and plasticity. Shipman conducted postdoctoral research in genetics, synthetic biology, and stem cell biology at Harvard Medical School and Harvard University with George Church and Jeffrey Macklis, where he developed an approach to store information into the genomic DNA of living cells. This work was featured in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and elsewhere, and was named as one of Discover magazine’s top 25 stories of the year.

Why Gladstone?

“I came to Gladstone to tackle the biggest questions about human disease, but with the freedom to use innovative approaches and follow the science wherever it takes me.”

Seth Shipman, PhD

Honors and Awards

2019 SFARI Bridge to Independence Award

2018 National Academy of Sciences Workshop on Scientific Convergence (Invited Panelist)

2018 DARPA Riser, DARPA 60th Anniversary Symposium

2014 Life Science Research Foundation Postdoctoral Award

2012 Gordon Research Conference, Poster Award

2012 Earle C Anthony Travel Award

2008 Graduate Research Fellowship, Honorable Mention, National Science Foundation

2007 Graduate Research Fellowship, Honorable Mention, National Science Foundation

2001 Outstanding Physics Student Scholarship


More Publications


Seth Shipman

Lab Members

Sofia Arreola
Student Intern
Santi Bhattarai-Kline
Research Associate I
Sue Cammack
Senior Administrative Specialist
Kate Crawford, c
Graduate Student
Rebecca Fang
Graduate Student
Chloe Fishman
Research Associate I
Alejandro Gonzalez Delgado, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar
Sierra Lear
Graduate Student
Santiago Lopez
Graduate Student
Santiago Lopez
Rotation Student
Christina Palka, PhD
Alfonso Rojas Montero, c
Research Associate I
Karen Zhang
Graduate Student