Annual Newsletter

The Cellular and Molecular Biology Training Grant
(Report by Jorge Torres and Jonathan Lowenson)

      The UCLA Cellular and Molecular Biology training program was established in 1975 with Paul Boyer as its first director.  We are now in our 46th year on the NIGMS training grant and currently support 24 predoctoral students at a stipend of $25,320 per year, plus partial funds for UC fees, tuition, and travel to scientific conferences. In addition, there are limited finances available to support seminar programs on campus that may be of special interest to our trainees.

Trainees eligible for this program must be in one of the following four graduate programs: the Biochemistry, Molecular & Structural Biology Ph.D. Program (BMSB) and the Chemistry Ph.D. Program (administered by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry), the Molecular Biology IDP (which includes four Biosciences Home Areas: Biochemistry, Biophysics, & Structural Biology; Cell & Developmental Biology; Gene Regulation; and Immunity, Microbes, & Molecular Pathogenesis), and the Neuroscience Ph.D. program.  Applications will be considered only from students who conduct research that focuses on techniques in molecular biology, cell biology, biochemistry, and/or structural biology.  

Through the current year, CMB trainees have been required to take the following classes: Chem C250. our biweekly research integrity class during the Fall quarter of their first year in the program, Chem 204 in the Winter and Spring of the first year and in the Fall and WInter of the second year, in which students present their data to the other trainees and hear talks from the training faculty, and our advanced research integrity class (Chem 203D) in the Spring quarter in which our second-year trainees and the training faculty participate in discussions about ethical issues affecting specific fields of research.  Many thanks go to the every training faculty who participated in these important classes.  

In the future, the CMB Training Program courses will be updated to better provide the trainees with the knowledge and foundational skills they need to excel in the fields of cell and molecular biology, to foster interactions of students and faculty from the multiple programs involved in the CMB Training Program, and to provide students with the technical, operational, and professional skills required to pursue biomedical careers after graduation.  All four new CMB courses will use a student-centered, active learning approach, and will involve reading primary literature, group discussions, and student presentations.  Core Principles in Cell and Molecular Biology (Chem250) will be a 4-unit course (two  2-hour classes/week) in the Fall quarter of the first year, the goal of which is to provide students with broad foundational knowledge and skills for rigorous research in emerging areas of cell and molecular biology.  Skills Development for Cell and Molecular Biologists (Chem204) will be a 2-unit (one 2-hour class/week) in the Winter quarter of the first year, the goal of which is to train students to develop the skills necessary to persist and thrive as researchers in cell and molecular biology.  Advanced Topics and Approaches in Cell and Molecular Biology Research (Chem205) will be a 2-unit (one 2-hour class/week) in the Spring quarter of the first year, the goal of which is to provide students with knowledge and skills related to advanced topics in emerging areas of cell and molecular biology.  Career Development for Cell and Molecular Biologists (Chem206) will be a 2-unit (one 2-hour class/week) course in the Winter quarter of the second year, the goal of which is to provide hands-on career development training that will prepare trainees for biomedical careers.  In addition, trainees will be required to take MIMG C234: Ethics and Accountability in Biomedical Research in the Spring quarter of their first year in the CMB Training Program (if they haven't already taken this class).

A major goal of the CMB Training Program is to help our trainees present their data at as many research conferences as possible.  In recent years, trainees have given talks or presented posters at the American Society for Mass Spectrometry Annual Conference in San Antonio, TX, the American Society for Cell Biology Annual Meeting in San Diego, Gorden Research Conferences in Galveston, TX, and Les Diablerets, Switzerlandthe Experimental Biology/ASBMB Conference in San Diego, the American Society for Microbiology Conference in Boston, MA, the Annual Meeting of the Protein Society in Barcelona, Spain, the Biophysical Society meeting in Los Angeles, the Lorne Conference on Protein Structure and Function in Lorne, Australia, the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center Spring Retreat at UC Berkeley, the Southern California Eukaryotic Pathogen Symposium at UC Riverside, the EMBOL Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and the Keystone Symposium (B Cells at the Intersection of Innate and Adaptive Immunity) in Stockholm, Sweden.

The trainees continue to be involved in mentoring underrepresented undergraduates, increasing the pipeline of future scientists.  One or more of our trainees attended the SACNAS Annual Conference and the Emerging Researches National (ERN) Conference in Washington DC last year.  Two of the trainees were involved with UCLA’s California Nanoscience Institute’s Community Outreach Program.  Three of the trainees worked with CityLab (, and one has recently been elected Education Director of this group.  Two trainees were tutors for School on Wheels, which links tutors with homeless children in order to keep them from falling behind in school.  Two trainees mentored STEM undergraduates at the UCLA Undergraduate Research Center.  Some of the trainees manned booths at UCLA’s annual “Exploring Your Universe” day, demonstrating chemistry to hundreds of children and their parents.  Finally, almost all of our trainees mentor either undergraduates or graduate students.

Many of the current and former trainees also presented posters, gave talks, and helped organize the annual MBI research conference which was held online last September.

We sincerely thank UCLA Graduate Division, who again provided us this year with supplemental funds to help cover the costs of tuition and fees.  Combined with funds from the NIH grant, we were able to cover more than 95% of the trainees' tuition and fees for the year.  



Program Director - Professor Jorge Torres

Associate Director - Professor Elissa Hallem

Program Coordinator - Jonathan Lowenson, 638 Boyer Hall (

      Major decisions affecting the grant administration are made by the Program Director and members of the Advisory Committee: Professor Tracy Johnson, Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology; Professor Robert Clubb, Chemistry and Biochemistry; Professor Alvaro Sagasti, Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology.  Besides deciding policy, the Advisory Committee is responsible for selecting the trainees for the coming year from the names submitted by each of the programs listed above.

New Appointments: Those who are joining the program in 2020-21 are as follows:

Bailey, Hannah


Quinlan, Margot

Otterbein University

Bernard, Matthew


Goldstein, Andrew

University of Washington

Boone, Brandon


Jacobsen, Steve

University of North Carolina

Cheng, Mandy


Su, Maureen

UC Berkeley

Christian, Bryan


Quinlan, Margot

CSU Northridge

Ford, Ian


Bensinger, Steve

Southern Methodist U.

Gehred, Natalie


Vondriska, Tom

Washington Universty

Gonzalez-Figueroa, Carlos


Xiao, Grace

UC Los Angeles

Goring, Andrew


Clubb, R.  Loo, J.

UC Santa Barbara

Lund, Andrew


Gomperts, Brigitte

UC Los Angeles

Pasquarelli, Rebecca


Bradley, Peter

Brown University

Roe, Anne


Pyle, April

Northeastern University

Sandoval, Rafael


Zemudio, Jesse

UC San Diego

CSU Los Angeles

Zink, Samantha


Rodriguez, Jose

UC Los Angeles