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Office of Graduate Education Stanford Biosciences Office of Graduate Education

Ellen Yeh, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and of Pathology

Ellen Yeh, MD, PhDEllen has a diverse scientific background, earning both a MD and PhD from Harvard University and completing Pathology residency at Stanford. She started her research career as a biochemist investigating enzymatic mechanisms because they were fun puzzles that tickled her brain. Motivated by unmet medical need, she moved into the malaria field for her independent research program making her a passable cell biologist, budding evolutionary biologist, and faux geneticist. Her brain still retains some knowledge about how to diagnose human infections from training in clinical microbiology (at the minimum she knows who to send samples to).

Her goal for trainees is to help them become independent thinkers and learn “how to learn.” She lives for the moments when her students surpass her, when they propose creative ideas and solutions she did not think of. As researchers, we can’t fear— and in fact we must embrace the state of “not knowing,” which means it is counterproductive to present a shield of all-knowing. She can, has, and will learn from anyone who has something to teach her (regardless of rank or perceived status). She believes there are no “born stars” — every trainee has the potential for growth and ability to contribute if they have the desire and given the opportunity.

Issues Ellen is passionate about (and often won’t shut up about) include, but are definitely not limited to: the value of equity and diversity in science for all stakeholders, creating a community of “we” in science, effective leadership/management styles for creative teams, global health and unmet medical need in resource- and research-poor areas, and non-model organism (weird) biology.

Students can email Ellen directly at