Angela Brooks

As a splicing specialist, Angela Brooks’s goal is to identify weaknesses in the cancer genome. A Pew Scholar, Brooks is an expert in the analysis of RNA sequencing data and is especially interested in the role of RNA splicing in gene expression. Brooks co-led a research group in the Pan-cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (Pan-cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) project, which contributed to the analysis of more than 2,600 genomes of 38 different tumor types, creating a huge resource of primary cancer genomes. Brooks’s Pan-Cancer research focused on changes in gene expression revealed by sequencing the RNA molecules in cancer cells in addition to the DNA sequences that are the focus of most cancer genomics studies. Toward improved detection of RNA molecules in cancer, Brooks’s lab developed the tool FLAIR for transcript detection and quantification from long-read RNA sequencing data. She also co-led the international Long-read RNA-seq Genome Annotation Assessment Project (LRGASP) Consortium to perform a systematic evaluation of long-read RNA sequencing methods.

When The Scientist magazine named her “A Scientist to Watch” in 2017, Brooks emphasized that beyond her lab work, she is also passionate about promoting diversity in research. “I think that’s another big goal I have: To increase the diversity of the data we have, but also to help include scientists from diverse populations to study these genomes.”

Brooks has enhanced diversity and inclusion in STEM at UC Santa Cruz by creating new training opportunities for students from underrepresented groups and leading and mentoring a highly diverse team of graduate and undergraduate student researchers. She is currently PI for the UCSC Genomics Institute’s Research Mentoring Internship Program (RMI), which supports research experiences for undergraduates from groups that are underrepresented in STEM. She has received multiple awards in recognition of her diversity and inclusion efforts including the Chancellor’s Achievement Awards for Diversity and the Outstanding Research and Professional Mentor Award from the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).