Leadership and Key Members
Gay M. Crooks, M.B., B.S.
Dr. Gay Crooks is known for discoveries that showed how human blood stem cells can be isolated and manipulated to improve the results of stem cell transplants, a treatment for a variety of diseases, including leukemias.
More recently, Dr. Crooks has expanded her research efforts to understand how stem cells produce a new immune system as they develop in the thymus and how this process might be improved. Her team is also developing ways to make blood and immune cells from embryonic stem cells to overcome a shortage of matched adult stem cells.
Dr. Crooks' stem cell focus was born from her clinical work as a bone marrow transplant physician, caring for children with leukemia and genetic diseases of the blood and immune system. The ability of blood-forming stem cells in bone marrow and umbilical cord blood to self-renew allows physicians to reconstitute a complete blood and immune system from healthy donors in sick patients after high-dose chemotherapy and radiation. Studies on blood stem cells have revealed much of the biology behind all stem cells types and provide valuable insight into moving stem cell biology into clinical care.
Co-director of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center and a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, pediatrics and orthopedic surgery, Dr. Crooks joined the UCLA faculty in 2009. She is a fellow of the Royal Australian College of Physicians and a member of the American Society of Bone Marrow Transplantation, the American Society of Hematology, the American Society of Gene Therapy, the International Society of Experimental Hematology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association of Immunology, the Society for Pediatric Research and the International Society for Stem Cell Research. She also is a researcher with UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Dr. Crooks’ work is funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.