Ray Stevens

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Provost Professor of Biological Sciences, Chemistry, and Chemical Engineering and Materials Science


  • 1988, Doctoral Degree, University of Southern California


Raymond C. Stevens helped pioneer the area of high throughput structural biology and elucidated the structure of proteins — essential work for pharmaceutical drug development. He has helped develop several therapeutic molecules that have become breakthrough drugs or are in clinical trials to treat conditions ranging from influenza to rare childhood diseases to neuromuscular disorders to diabetes. A prolific scholar, he has authored more than 300 peer-reviewed publications in the area of human cell signaling and holds a series of patents for his synthetic lipid membranes.

Before joining USC, Stevens was a professor of molecular biology and chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute and founding director of the iHuman Institute in Shanghai. His laboratory has launched four biotech startups (Syrrx, acquired by Takeda; MemRx, acquired by Novartis; Receptos, which had an initial public offering (RCPT) in May 2013; and RuiYi, located in Shanghai) and has infused more than $2 billion into the scientific community over the past 10 years through National Institutes of Health grants and other funding.

Stevens earned his undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of Southern Maine and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, where he worked with Professor Robert Bau and Distinguished Professor of Chemistry George Olah, who was awarded a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1994. Stevens then conducted postdoctoral research in structural biology at Harvard University with 1976 Nobel prize winner William Lipscomb, before joining the chemistry and neurobiology faculty at the University of California, Berkeley.

Thomson Reuters named Stevens as having one of “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” for 2014. The honor recognizes the authors of the top 1 percent most-cited articles in their field. His numerous research accolades include the National Science Foundation’s Presidential Young Investigator Award, Beckman Foundation’s Young Investigator Award, the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory Outstanding Performance Award, the Jouan Robotics Award, the Sidhu Award, a Chinese Academy of Sciences Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, the Qian Ren Award, the Zhao Chenggu SIMM Award for International Drug Discovery and USC Alumnus of the Year.

Research Summary

Over the years the Stevens Lab has developed high-throughput methods to accelerate the understanding of proteins and the molecules that control them. The lab has examined entire bacterial organisms as well as complete protein families like human G-protein coupled receptors. One of the primary research interests is applying these tools to study the chemistry and biology of neurotransmission, and of diseases that affect neurobiology (how does the brain work at the molecular level?). The Steven Lab aims to understand how neuronal cells function on a molecular level and, and on the basis of that understanding, create new molecules and materials that mimic neuronal signal transduction and recognition. To date and using structure guided drug discovery, the lab has developed a number of therapeutic molecules now on the market or in clinical development to treat various diseases that affect mankind. They use a combination of chemistry, biochemistry, structural biology, cell biology, and pharmacology to accomplish the goals. Most recently, the Stevens Lab has moved to USC to create the Bridge@USC, a new institute focused on the convergence of the sciences to understand the complete human body at the molecular, cellular, and human scale.


    • MCB 320
    • Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience
    • 1002 West Childs Way
    • USC Mail Code: 3303

    Contact Information
    • stevens@usc.edu


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