Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Program


Dr. Gay Crooks Dr. Brigitte Gomperts


Gay Crooks

Contact via email


Brigitte Gomperts

Contact via email


The Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Research Program (CSCB) links basic and translational investigators interested in the unique biological processes shared by malignancy and stem cells. It is expected that a detailed understanding of the mechanisms of how normal and aberrant cells self-renew and differentiate will offer novel biological insights into the initiation, progression and recurrence of cancer, and enable researchers to explore novel therapeutic targets and biomarkers.

CSCB members span four schools and affiliated institution Cal Tech, and 15 UCLA departments. Although each CSCB investigator has a dominant interest in either hematopoietic or epithelial stem cells, the shared biology of stem cells and cancer in all tissue types has led to an immensely fertile and interactive environment within the CSCB research program across platforms. These interactions have been further enhanced by the close collaboration between the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center. Nearly every CSCB investigator works on at least two of the program’s specific aims, using combinations of animal model systems, human pluripotent stem cells, and primary human tissues to uncover basic biologic processes and reveal new opportunities for cancer treatment.


The primary goal of the CSCB research program is to link basic and translational investigators interested in the unique biological processes shared by malignancy and stem cells. Additional specific aims of the research program are:

  1. Understand the regulation of the biology of epithelial-specific stem cells during malignant transformation and normal development
  2. Define the mechanisms that regulate growth and differentiation of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells during malignant transformation, normal development, and after transplantation
  3. Determine the role of microenvironment in tumor formation and stem cell regulation

Meetings and seminars

  • Participation in the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center seminar series that features invited outside and local faculty
  • Sponsor of the Cell and Developmental Biology weekly seminar series
  • Co-sponsor of the annual UCLA Stem Cell Symposium
  • Sponsor for outside invited speakers that focus on research related to cancer and stem cell biology
  • Monthly seminars for Pre-doctoral and Postdoctoral students supported on T32 grants associated with the program (Tumor Cell Biology, Vascular Biology, CIRM training grants)


Director Dr. Gay Crooks is the Rebecca Smith Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Pediatrics at UCLA. In 2015, she became director of the CSCB research program, after serving as co-director for three years. In addition to her role as co-director of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center, Crooks is a physician-scientist who moved to UCLA in 2009 through a joint recruitment by the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center. Her research interests span the hematopoietic themes of the CSCB research program and include human hematopoiesis from adult human hematopoietic stem cells and pluripotent stem cells, T lymphoid differentiation from stem cells, and microenvironmental control of hematopoiesis. Crooks was a scholar of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and received a Stohlman Scholar Award for her work in human lymphoid commitment.

Co-director Dr. Brigitte Gomperts is Full Professor of Pediatrics and Pulmonary Medicine and Vice Chair for Research in the Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology. In 2015, she joined Crooks as co-director of CSCB. Gomperts is a physician-scientist who was recruited to UCLA in 2003 by the David Geffen School of Medicine in collaboration with the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. Her research is in the area of airway epithelial homeostasis and lung carcinogenesis as well as the role of the microenvironment in regulating airway repair after injury. Her work spans the epithelial themes of the CSCB research program, complementing Crook’s expertise. Gomperts was a Pediatric Physician Scientist Development Program awardee (1999–2003), and is also member of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center Working Group.

Upcoming events

The following list is for upcoming events and seminars of notable interest to the Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Program and its members. This calendar is updated automatically.

For a list of all upcoming JCCC events (including other research programs, patients and survivors, and the UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation), please visit the Events Calendar.

UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Annual All Center Retreat

Banner for the 2023 UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Annual RetreatWe are excited to announce the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Annual All Center Retreat! The all-day event will take place at the Luskin Conference Center on May 2, 2023.

The keynote speaker for the Retreat is Karen E. Knudsen, MBA, PhD, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society and its advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. Additional activities include scientific talks, educational sessions, networking, poster exhibits and more. Further details will be announced soon.

Registration is required and now open! Please visit our registration page to reserve your ticket now—space is limited. And please share this with your UCLA colleagues who you believe would be interested. We look forward to seeing you at the Retreat!

Call for Posters The Cancer Center would like to invite graduate students and postdoctoral research and clinical fellows to submit an abstract for consideration for a poster display at the Retreat. This is a great opportunity for trainees to share their cancer-focused research projects and network with colleagues. Prizes in each category will be awarded.

The deadline for poster abstract submission is March 17. As there are a limited number of slots for posters, those whose poster are selected for display at the Retreat will be notified by March 28 of acceptance. For more information and instructions on how to submit, please visit the Call for Posters page.

All attendees are subject to Los Angeles County Health Department and UCLA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols. For all the current campus COVID-19 guidelines, please visit UCLA's COVID-19 website.

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