Headshot of Professor Bernstein

Sanford Bernstein, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor of Biology 

Department of Biology

Professor Bernstein, Distinguished Professor of Biology, came to San Diego State in 1983 to help build the cell and molecular biology program. Today, it has more than 60 master’s students and approximately 40 doctoral students in a joint Ph.D. program with UCSD. Professor Bernstein served as coordinator of the Ph.D. program from 2000-2008. In 2003, Professor Bernstein and College of Business Dean Gail Naughton collaborated to create a unique SDSU program for students seeking a research-based biology doctoral degree combined with a sound knowledge of business. This five-year MBA/Ph.D. degree teaches young scientists how to navigate the world of product development, sales and marketing. In the Bernstein lab, a group of research associates, postdoctoral fellows, Ph.D. candidates, master’s students and undergraduates collaborate to study models of human cardiac and skeletalmuscle diseases. The lab has operated for nearly 30 years with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Professor Bernstein’s work includes NIH-sponsored collaborations with professor Tom Huxford in SDSU’s Chemistry and Biochemistry Department – to study the structure of a protein important in combating muscle stress. At the center of Professor Bernstein’s award-winning research is the tiny fruit fly – Drosophila melanogaster. The lab produces transgenic strains of Drosophila to study how protein structure affects protein function during an organism’s muscle development. Professor Bernstein has also collaborated with academics from U.S. universities; from the Instituto Cajal and the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid in Spain; and from the University of Kent at Canterbury and the University of York in England on a variety of research studies involving gene expression and protein function in muscle cells. He has received a prestigious American Heart Association Established Investigatorship and the California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB) award. He is the 2012 Albert W. Johnson Research Lecturer at SDSU. A campus leader, Professor Bernstein has served as Biology Department chair, director of SDSU’s Molecular Biology Institute, board member of the SDSU Research Foundation, chair of the university’s copyrights and patents committee, and chair of the promotion committee within the College of Sciences.