U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu speaks with UCLA professor Abel Valenzuela during an audience Q&A following the Winston C. Doby lecture.

U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu says government can help make society more just for all

U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu speaks with UCLA professor Abel Valenzuela during an audience Q&A following the Winston C. Doby lecture.

U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu speaks with UCLA professor Abel Valenzuela during an audience Q&A following the Winston C. Doby lecture.

U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu came from Taiwan to the United States with his family when he was 3 years old. And since then, he has tried to champion the ideals that propelled him and his family to success.

“In my mind, [my parents] achieved the American dream,” the California Democrat told the crowd as he delivered the UCLA Academic Advancement Project’s Winston C. Doby Distinguished Lecture. “They went from being poor, to owning a home, to giving my brother and I an amazing education.”

Lieu told his story to a rapt audience of students, faculty and alumni on Feb. 19 at the California NanoSystems Institute. This year was the seventh Doby lecture, which is put on by UCLA’s Academic Advancement Program.

Known as AAP, the Academic Advancement Program is the nation’s largest university-based student diversity program, with a tradition of more than 40 years at UCLA. It has reached more than 5,600 students through academic advising, collaborative learning workshops, mentoring, scholarships and a summer bridge program for entering freshmen and transfer students.

AAP established the Doby lecture to honor its creator and first director, Winston C. Doby, who devoted more than 40 years advocating for access and social justice in higher education for all students.

“He continues to be an inspiration to me,” said Charles Alexander, associate vice provost for student diversity and current AAP director. “He was very involved in many, many incredible things in terms of building this campus and building campus community.”

As Lieu considered the topic of how to make society more just and fair for everyone, he broke it down into three distinct areas for his approximately 45-minute lecture: education, immigration and criminal justice reform.

“The single best investment our nation can make is in education,” said Lieu, who added that he found inspiration in Doby’s work and the work of UCLA’s Academic Advancement Project. “We have to think about it, not just for higher education, but all the way down.”

Lieu emphasized the benefits of investing in education for children ages 0-5, and to also look for holistic solutions. He emphasized the need to lift families out of poverty as the best way to improve educational outcomes

“That would do more to improve public education than anything we could do,” Lieu said.

He cited an example of a Los Angeles nonprofit that went into schools and tested children’s eyesight. As many as 30 percent of students in several schools needed eyeglasses, which the nonprofit delivered. Once the students were able to see clearly, test scores improved. “If you could take into account these non-school factors, that is a big way to improve public education.”

On immigration, Lieu expressed his frustration that a deal to protect people who qualified for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program fell through, but vowed to continue to find a way to halt any unfair immigration laws that President Donald Trump’s administration might propose. Lieu said that he would still consider giving in to some of the administration’s demands — perhaps even a wall — if there was comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, he and many others seek. Lieu said he did not want to rule that out.

Even though it can often be difficult to find political common ground in Washington, D.C., Lieu co-authored a recently passed criminal justice reform bill. The bill has lowered sentences for non-violent crimes, among other actions.

“It was not huge, but it was a step in the right direction,” Lieu said, adding that a good second step would be to implement bail reform. “If you really look into it, it is a disaster. On any given day, hundreds of thousands of people are locked up in prisons and jails, not because they’ve been convicted of anything, but because they are too poor to pay the fee to get out of jail or prison.”

Under current bail laws people get released because they can afford to pay a large bail, not because they committed a crime that makes them less of a threat to the community. Consequently, poorer people languish in jail.

Lieu said a newer risk analysis system that adjusts to that reality has been previously implemented in Washington, D.C. and Kentucky — and this year in California — has shown early positive results.

Lieu briefly discussed Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the border between the United States and Mexico.

“Study after study after study say that both documented and undocumented immigrants commit less crime than people born here,” Lieu said, adding that he thinks there is a good argument to be made in the courts to halt the national emergency declaration.

Lieu concluded by taking the time to talk about the humanitarian crisis caused by the Yemen Civil War. He said his heart goes out to the Yemen civilians who are suffering, and he’s distressed by the mounting casualties from Saudi Arabian airstrikes — something he has fought to bring to the national consciousness. “War crimes are not a partisan issue.”

After his speech, Lieu fielded questions from the audience, assisted by moderator Abel Valenzuela, UCLA professor of urban planning and Chicana and Chicano studies, as well as UCLA Chancellor Gene Block’s adviser on immigration. Topics included the 2020 presidential election, Green New Deal and affirmative action.

Lieu concluded by emphasizing the social justice aspect of the evening, and vowing to continue to fight for those ideals in Congress. “I’m in politics to make sure this [American] dream remains possible for people who want to work hard and succeed.”

Students and Faculty at Amgen Scholars UCLA Poster Session

UCLA receives grant from the Amgen Foundation to continue hosting Amgen Scholars Program

Through a $74M, 16-year investment, Amgen Scholars Program will partner with 24 top educational and research institutions worldwide.

Students and Faculty at Amgen Scholars UCLA Poster Session

Amgen Scholars Poster Session | Photo credit: Reed Hutchinson


UCLA has been awarded a four-year grant from the Amgen Foundation to continue providing hands-on laboratory experience to undergraduate students across Southern California through the Amgen Scholars Program. The Amgen Foundation is expanding the Amgen Scholars Program, bringing the program to a total of 24 premier institutions across the U.S., Europe, Asia and, for the first time, Australia and Canada, to provide undergraduates with financial support and hands-on summer research opportunities in biomedical and biotechnology fields.

The UCLA Amgen Scholars Program, which has hosted 276 Amgen Scholars since 2009, offers an intensive research experience for students to work in the labs of distinguished UCLA faculty members. Students are matched with faculty mentors of their choice and work full time within their mentor’s laboratory for 10 weeks during the summer. In addition to laboratory research, students attend weekly seminars where they learn about the research of invited faculty speakers as well as discuss graduate school applications and interviews, how to prepare research presentations, and discuss the different career opportunities in the basic sciences.

“The Amgen Scholars Program has long been an integral part of Undergraduate Education – offering students both from UCLA and other institutions the unique opportunity for intensive lab work and mentorship opportunities during the summer,” said Dean and Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education Patricia Turner. “We’ve seen that graduates of this program are better prepared and motivated to attend graduate school and pursue research careers.”

This signature initiative builds upon the Amgen Foundation’s mission to advance excellence in science education and empower tomorrow’s innovators, a goal to which the Foundation has contributed nearly $150 million globally to date. Eight new partners — Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, National University of Singapore, Tsinghua University, University of Melbourne, University of Toronto, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Yale University — will join the already distinguished group of host institutions including UCLA.

“As the pace of innovation increases, so too does the need to educate the scientists of tomorrow,” said Robert A. Bradway, chairman and chief executive officer at Amgen. “We look forward to further expanding the reach of the Amgen Scholars Program, which has already provided research opportunities to thousands of talented undergraduates at premier institutions around the globe, and now has the potential do much more.”

Since its inception in 2006, the Amgen Scholars Program has made research opportunities at premier institutions possible for more than 3,900 undergraduate students representing 700 colleges and universities. Of those alumni who have completed their undergraduate studies, nearly 900 are currently pursuing an advanced graduate degree in a scientific field, and another 280 have earned their Ph.D. or M.D.-Ph.D. More than 500 are employed in scientific fields across 33 countries, with 99 percent of surveyed alumni saying the program impacted their academic or professional direction. Alumni of the program are beginning to make a growing impact across academia, industry and government, garnering numerous awards and recognitions such as the Rhodes Scholarship, NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, and selection to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in Healthcare.

Amgen Scholars provides a unique opportunity for students to engage in the process of discovery and build intellectual connections with some of the most accomplished scientists around the world. Undergraduate participants benefit from undertaking a research project with the mentorship of top faculty, being part of a cohort-based experience, participating in seminars and networking events and taking part in a symposium in their respective region where they meet their peers, learn about biotechnology and hear from leading scientists in both industry and academia.

The program aims to break down barriers for many students who otherwise would not have the opportunity to engage in science at the world’s top educational and research institutions. Financial support for students is a critical component of the program, which seeks to ensure that eligible students, regardless of their financial status, can participate.

UCLA will soon be accepting applications for the 2019 Amgen Scholars Program through February 1, 2019.


Amgen Scholars Program Host Institutions:

*Indicates New Host Institution for 2019

  • United States:  California Institute of Technology, Columbia University, Duke University,* Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University,* National Institutes of Health, Stanford University, UC Berkeley,  UC Los Angeles, UC San Francisco, UT Southwestern Medical Center,* Washington University St. Louis, Yale University*
  • Europe:  ETH Zurich, Institut Pasteur, Karolinska Institute, LMU Munich, University of Cambridge
  • Asia:  Kyoto University, National University of Singapore,* Tsinghua University,* The University of Tokyo
  • Australia:  University of Melbourne*
  • Canada:  University of Toronto*


About the Amgen Foundation:

The Amgen Foundation seeks to advance excellence in science education to inspire the next generation of innovators and to invest in strengthening communities where Amgen staff members live and work. To date, the Foundation has donated over $300 million to local, regional and international nonprofit organizations that impact society in inspiring and innovative ways. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter at @AmgenFoundation.