Bruins-in-Genomics: Evaluation of the impact of a UCLA undergraduate summer program in computational biology on participating students

May 27, 2022

Stacey Beggs | Computational Medicine Department

Professor Hilary Coller (Departments of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology and Biological Chemistry) and several others affiliated with the Bruin-in-Genomics Summer Program (“BIG Summer”), QC Biology Institute, and Department of Computational Medicine recently published an article describing the impact of BIG Summer on the careers of its undergraduate participants. The article explains the goals of the program related to diversifying the computational biology workforce and the results of analysis of five years of data on the participants’ careers after their participation in the program.  They hypothesized that participation in the Bruins-in-Genomics program would increase the likelihood that students would pursue post-graduate education in a related field. See below for the complete list of authors, which includes several members of the Department of Computational Medicine.

Recruiting, training, and retaining scientists in computational biology is necessary to develop a workforce that can lead the quantitative biology revolution. It is critical that life scientists receive quantitative training so they are well prepared. Data shows that African-American/Black, Hispanic/Latinx, Native Americans, and women are severely underrepresented in this workforce. The UCLA Bruins-in-Genomics Summer Research Program seeks to address this deficit. 

The analysis showed that 75% of Bruins-in-Genomics Summer participants enrolled in graduate school. The participant group was compared to a control group consisting of students who were accepted but declined to participate in BIG Summer. Logistic regression analysis revealed that women who participated in the program were significantly more likely to pursue a Ph.D. than a matched control group. The Bruins-in-Genomics Summer program represents an example of how a combined didactic-research program structure can make computational biology accessible to a wide range of undergraduates and increase participation in quantitative biosciences.

PLOS ONE is an open-access journal community that works to advance science for the benefit of society, and that publishes multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research. PLOS is a nonprofit, open-access publisher empowering researchers to accelerate progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication.

Authors: Hilary A. Coller, Stacey Beggs, Samantha Andrews, Jeff Maloy, Alec Chiu, Sriram Sankararaman, Matteo Pellegrini, Nelson Freimer, Tracy Johnson, Jeanette Papp, Eleazar Eskin, and Alexander Hoffmann


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