Virginia Cornish

Virginia Cornish


Helena Rubinstein Professor, Department of Chemistry


Department of Chemistry
Department of Systems Biology


(212) 854-5209

Virginia Cornish is the Helena Rubinstein Professor in the Department of Chemistry. Her laboratory brings together modern methods in organic chemistry and DNA technology to expand the synthetic capabilities of living cells. Their interests include harnessing the ribosome for unnatural oligomer synthesis using synthetic amino acid building blocks, and engineering yeast to enable directed evolution of molecules and pathways directly in a living cell. They then exploit these synthetic methods for applications in bioimaging, diagnostics, and therapeutics.

Dr. Cornish is the author of more than 60 publications and patents and her research is supported by multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and private foundations. Her research has been recognized with numerous awards including an NSF Career Award, a Sloan Foundation Fellowship, the Protein Society Irving Sigal Young Investigator Award, and the American Chemical Society Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry.

More News


A Grand Challenge for Genome Engineering: GP-write
In June 2016 an international consortium announced an ambitious proposal to develop new technologies for synthesizing large genomes. Virginia Cornish and Harris Wang discuss what the effort hopes to achieve.
Graduate Students Invent Technique for Reprogramming Translation
MD/PhD students Andrew Anzalone and Sakellarios Zairis engineered RNA motifs capable of inducing ribosomal frameshifting. Their method could offer new opportunities for synthetic biology.
Columbia Launches Undergraduate Synthetic Biology Team
For this year’s International Genetically Engineered Machine Foundation (iGEM) competition, the team used synthetic biology methods to engineer edible probiotic bacteria that could regulate hunger and digestion.
The Rise of Systems Biology
"'Science is more than a body of knowledge, it's a way of thinking,' remarked Carl Sagan, and probably his words were never more powerfully relevant than for portraying one of the newest biomedical fields, systems biology."