Julie Theriot attended college at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, graduating with degrees in Physics and Biology. She pursued graduate training at the University of California, San Francisco, earning her Ph.D. in Cell Biology in 1993. After four years as a Fellow at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Theriot moved to Stanford University School of Medicine where she is currently a Professor of Biochemistry and of Microbiology and Immunology. Since 2008, Theriot has also been an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Theriot's research focuses on how interactions at the molecular level determine cell behavior, in particular, how cells change their shape or direction of movement. Theriot has received numerous awards for her work including fellowships from both the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. She has also been recognized for her exceptional teaching.