Life Sciences and Health

Professor Tracy Johnson works with students in the lab.

If you like to explore the secrets of human organisms or think you might have a talent for healing, you may find your calling in the biological sciences and health field. Students in this field are fascinated by life, from single cells to the human body as a whole.

Academic Majors and Minors

Here are some of the majors and minors available in this field of study:

Most Popular Majors

  • Biology
  • Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics
  • Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology
  • Physiological Science

Trending Majors

  • Computational and Systems Biology
  • Ecology, Behavior and Evolution
  • Human Biology and Society

Intriguing Minors

  • Biomedical Research
  • Conservation Biology
  • Evolutionary Medicine
  • Food Studies
  • Society and Genetics

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center is ranked No. 1 in California and No. 5 nationally — and it’s right on campus. Through programs like UCLA Care Extenders, students in any major can train as volunteers to assist medical staff and gain firsthand experience.

Noteworthy Faculty

Here are just a few of the many professors in this field of study who’ve had a remarkable impact in their area of expertise.

A headshot of Professor Paul Barber

Paul Barber

Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Barber, a marine biologist, strives to advance diversity in STEM fields. He created UCLA’s Diversity Project, a summer research intensive that takes underrepresented minority students to places like French Polynesia to study marine biodiversity.

A headshot of Associate Professor Barbara Bates-Jensen

Barbara Bates-Jensen

Professor of Nursing

A world-renowned researcher, author and inventor, Bates-Jensen was a co-developer of the SEM Scanner, a wireless wound assessment device that can detect pressure injuries up to 10 days before damage is visible. The device transformed pressure ulcer care.

A headshot of Professor Rachelle Crosbie

Rachelle Crosbie

Professor of Integrative Biology and Physiology

Crosbie is passionate about understanding the molecules that drive muscle cell function. Her pioneering research on Duchenne muscular dystrophy has helped young people suffering from the deadly disease. She and her team continue to work on finding a cure.

A headshot of Professor Tracy Johnson

Tracy Johnson

Professor of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology

A recipient of the National Science Foundation Career Award, Johnson was recently named dean of the division of life sciences. She uses innovative and active techniques to engage students, including those helping investigate gene splicing and transcription in her lab.

Notable Alumni

Bruins have achieved great heights in all walks of life — health, sports, entertainment, public service, science and technology, and arts and letters. Here are some alumni in this field of study who have had a noticeable impact on the world.

A headshot of UCLA alum Patricia Ganz

Patricia Ganz

M.D. ’73

Research pioneer and advocate for breast cancer survivors

A headshot of UCLA alum Randy Schekman

Randy Schekman

Individual Field Concentration in Molecular Biology ’71

Winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

A headshot of UCLA alum Paul Terasaki

Paul Terasaki

Zoology ’50, M.S. ’52, Ph.D. ’56

Tissue-typing revolutionary who devised the procedure for matching organ donors with organ recipients

Growth Careers in the Field

Here are a few examples of growing areas in this field of study:

Genetic Counselors

Ongoing technological innovations, including improvements in lab tests and developments in genomics, are projected to spur 27% growth in this field by 2028.

Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives and Nurse Practitioners

An increased emphasis on preventive care and demand for healthcare services from the aging baby-boom population is predicted to lead to 31% growth in these career options by 2028.

Physician Assistants

This field is projected to grow 31% by 2028 due to an increase in the aging population, which means a greater need for those who provide preventative care and treat the sick.

Related Careers

Here are a few examples of areas where this exciting field of study is growing and developing.

  • Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians
  • Clinical Research Associate (CRA)
  • Cytotechnologist
  • Environmental Coordinator
  • Food Scientist
  • Industrial Hygienist
  • Laboratory Manager
  • Nuclear Medicine Technologist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Physical Therapist
  • Project Manager, Pharmaceuticals
  • Quality Assurance Director


A headshot of UCLA student Arianna Mandelli

I am an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Jessica Wang’s lab dedicated to rare inherited cardiovascular diseases ... As a first-generation college student, I recognize the importance of encouraging underrepresented students to pursue higher education in STEM. With my involvement with Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, I hope to give back to the community and empower the younger generation.

Arianna Mandelli, molecular, cell and developmental biology major

See What This Field is Like at UCLA

Professor Rachelle Crosbie lectures to a class.

Professor Rachelle Crosbie teaches in the department of Integrative Biology and Physiology. She’s known for her contributions to Duchenne muscular dystrophy education.

A UCLA Flying Samaritans volunteer helps a man in a rural community in Tijuana.

UCLA Flying Samaritans is a student-run non-profit that provides free healthcare services and healthcare education to rural communities in Tijuana.

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center reflects the afternoon sun.

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center is ranked No. 4 in the nation. As a research hospital, it’s continually on the forefront of modern medicine — and it’s right on campus.

Professor Robert Goldberg teaches students about plant genetics.

In Professor Robert Goldberg’s class, students studying molecular, cell and developmental biology focus on plant genetics.

A student shares his work with another student in a bioengineering lab.

With bioengineering, the fastest-growing engineering specialty, students investigate the mechanisms of biological structures and work on developing technologies and therapeutics.

The sun reflects off the façade of the UCLA Terasaki Life Sciences Building.

The UCLA Terasaki Life Sciences Building is named after Paul Terasaki, who developed a method for matching organ donors and recipients that’s been used for over one million transplants.

Professor of Integrative Biology and Physiology Amy Rowat poses with a tableful of food.

Professor Amy Rowat’s lab studies the mechanics of biological materials and their role in physiology ranging from human health to the foods we eat.

Three female students work together in a bioengineering lab.

Students who work in bioengineering labs are able to take part in cutting-edge research that aims to benefit society.

Institutes and Research

UCLA offers many resources for deepening your knowledge in your chosen field, including hundreds of research centers, institutes and labs that encourage collaboration across disciplines. Here are a few of the many options in this area:

UCLA Institute for Quantitative and Computational Biosciences

The hallmark of the QCBio faculty, who represent more than 12 departments and a broad range of biological and biomedical research areas, is to support quantitative and computational biosciences research, training and education.

Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Gardens

The Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden (MEMBG) is a living museum with special collections designed to assist the undergraduate teaching mission at UCLA and to augment the capability for research on campus.

La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science

The La Kretz Center helps preserve California’s biodiversity and ecosystems through research, education and public programs.

UCLA Health

Located right on campus, the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center is ranked the No. 6 hospital in the nation. Undergraduate and graduate students are involved at the hospital as volunteers and researchers.


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