Portrait of Dean Tracy Johnson

Dean Tracy Johnson receives grant to launch undergraduate stem cell training program

Portrait of Dr. Tracy Johnson

Tracy Johnson, professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology in the UCLA College and holder of the Cecilia and Keith Tarasaki Presidential Endowed Chair. Effective Sept. 1, 2020, Johnson became dean of the division of life sciences in the UCLA College. | Photography by Hadar Goren

UCLA Newsroom | August 30, 2022

Editor’s note: This page was updated Aug. 31 with the correct figure for the grant.

Tracy Johnson, dean of the division of life sciences and a member of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA, has received a $2.9 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to train students from underrepresented backgrounds in stem cell biology.

The four-year commitment from the state’s stem cell agency comes in the form of a Creating Opportunities through Mentorship and Partnership Across Stem Cell Science, or COMPASS, grant. With it, Johnson will found the UCLA COMPASS program, which will be open to sophomores and transfer students from two-year colleges.

Each UCLA student accepted into the COMPASS program will be matched with a faculty mentor from the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center and will engage in at least six quarters of laboratory research, gaining valuable hands-on experience and earning credit towards their degree. COMPASS scholars will also complete courses designed to equip them with the skills they need to build careers in the stem cell field, present their research at conferences and receive training in science communications and community outreach.

Applicants will initially be recruited from two UCLA programs: the Academic Advancement Program’s Transfer Summer Program and Pathways to Success, the latter of which was developed by Johnson. Pathways to Success is a four-year, honors-level program designed to support undergraduate students’ efforts in science, technology, engineering and math degree programs, academic achievement, sense of belonging in science and career goals.

“I am proud of UCLA’s efforts to create and maintain college and career readiness programs that help ensure the future success of undergraduate students who are determined to bring about positive change in the world,” said Johnson, who holds the Keith and Cecilia Terasaki Presidential Endowed Chair in Life Sciences and is a professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology.

Recruiting for the UCLA COMPASS program will begin this fall.

Read the full news release about the UCLA COMPASS program.

This article originally appeared in the UCLA Newsroom. For more news and updates from the UCLA College, visit college.ucla.edu/news.