Seth Shipman and his team develop innovative strategies to manipulate cells for discovery and therapeutic purposes. As a general principle, they build new technologies to intervene in human disease using molecular parts sourced from bacteria. For instance, Shipman’s team developed a way to record the order in which genes turn on in a living cell by co-opting two different bacterial immune systems, the retron system and the CRISPR system. His team plans to use that technology to understand how the order of gene expression during development drives the formation of different cells types and tissues. They are also working to improve the precision of genome editing technologies that will be used to correct disease-causing mutations, by using bacterial retroelements alongside CRISPR-Cas9.

Disease Areas

Neuropsychiatric Diseases
Neurodegenerative Diseases
Mitochondrial Disorders

Areas of Expertise

Molecular Engineering
Technology Development
CRISPR and Genome Editing
Stem Cells and iPS Cells
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
Developing precise genome editing technologies for molecular medicine and fundamental discovery of disease mechanisms

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. The lab also harnesses molecular components from bacterial immune systems to make precise modifications to the human genome.


Professional Titles

Associate Investigator

Associate Investigator, Gladstone Institutes

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


Seth Shipman is an associate investigator at Gladstone Institutes. He is also an associate professor in the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences at UC San Francisco, as well as a CZ Biohub Investigator.

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. He 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

2022 CZ Biohub Investigator

2020 NIH New Innovator

2020 Pew Biomedical Scholar

2019 ScienceNews: The SN 10, Scientists to Watch

2019 SFARI Bridge to Independence Award

2018 DARPA Riser, DARPA 60th Anniversary Symposium

2014 Life Science Research Foundation Postdoctoral Award

2011 Grass Fellowship in Neuroscience (declined), Grass Foundation



Seth Shipman

Lab Members

Laura Bonillo Lopez
Visiting Researcher
Adriann Josef Brodeth
Student Intern
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
Jihoon Han, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar
Asim Khan
Kealohilani Kyle
Student Intern
Sierra Lear
Graduate Student
Yumie Lee
Student Intern
Santiago Lopez
Graduate Student
Santiago Lopez
Rotation Student
Kazuo Nakamura
Student Intern
Kelechi Onwuzurike
Student Intern
Christina Palka, PhD
Darshini Poola
Research Associate I
Alfonso Rojas Montero, c
Pallavi Raj Sharma, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar
Linhan Wang, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar
Phillipe Wiederkehr
Phillipe Wiederkehr
Research Associate I
Karen Zhang
Graduate Student