Free Lectures by Leading Biologists Available Online

Ron Vale

World-class biologists at are being videotaped for an easy-to-use online series of seminars and educational tools available on demand and free to students and scientists around the world.

The talks are available at, and include lectures by Nobel laureates Elizabeth Blackburn, Eric Wieschaus, and David Baltimore, as well as an impressive group of UCSF biologists that includes Joe Derisi, Jonathan Weissman, and Cynthia Kenyon. 

The talks provide considerable introduction to the lecture subject, making them accessible to students and researchers from various fields. A number of the seminars include teaching tools, such as extensive lecture notes and question sets, and are being used in graduate and undergraduate classrooms around the world. The talks may be streamed or downloaded, or viewed on YouTube or iTunes.

The project is co-sponsored by UCSF, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the American Society for Cell Biology. More than 50 talks are online already, and they have been downloaded more than 2 million times, according to UCSF’s Ronald Vale, PhD, professor of cellular and molecular pharmacology at UCSF, who created and directs the project.

Vale also heads up a new online magazine,, a collection of short videos (5-15 minutes) that highlight the human side of science. iBioMagazine goes “behind-the-scenes” of important scientific discoveries, provides advice for young scientists, and explores how research is practiced in the life sciences.

“These are UCSF ‘home-grown’ projects that are intended to enrich our research and educational communities,” Vale says.

Talks on iBioMagazine include:

  • “How I Became a Scientist,” by Robert Ramirez, Professor of Cellular and Molecular Biology at San Francisco State University;

  • “Learning from Failure,” by Bruce Alberts, PhD, the editor-in-chief of Science, professor emeritus of biochemistry and biophysics at UCSF, former president of the National Academy of Sciences, and United States Science Envoy to Indonesia and Pakistan and

  • “Rebuilding African Universities,” by Haile Debas, MD, chancellor emeritus at UCSF, former dean of the UCSF School of Medicine and executive director of UCSF Global Health Sciences.

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