Image courtesy of Magnus Stark
 The Broad Center for the Biological Sciences, at the California Institute of Technology, designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners

James Spudich, a Stanford University biochemist, likens the cell to a city. It incorporates roads and pathways, he says, and houses large structures, akin to buildings, such as the mitochondria and nucleus. But unlike the city, the cell can completely transform its own structure according to its needs. The right signals can convert the equivalent of the San Francisco city plan into the London city plan, he explains, if that makes sense to the cell. This metaphor of cell and city informs Spudich's vision of the new James H. Clark Center, set to open this month. The Center forms the core of Stanford's Bio-X program, which aims to join scientists of multiple disciplines in research.

Designed by the pioneering British architects, Foster and Partners,...

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