John Colicelli

I was born and raised in New Jersey to first-generation Italian American parents and attended Rutgers, a state university, where I majored in chemistry. After graduation, I served as a Peace Corp volunteer in Ghana, where I taught chemistry and physics at a boarding high school. I did my doctoral studies with Stephen Goff, a retrovirologist at Columbia University. I continued my training with Michael Wigler at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where I focused on signal transduction by RAS proteins and tumorigenesis. I came to UCLA as an Assistant Professor of Biological Chemistry in November 1990. Teaching undergraduates, medical students, and graduate students is a particularly rewarding part of my job. I have also mentored numerous PhD students and several postdoctoral fellows. My administrative responsibilities include Vice Chair of Biological Chemistry and Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs.

I am an openly gay man but was not open during my training or my first few years at UCLA. I kept this part of my identity private because I believed it would put distance between me and my colleagues. I was concerned that other people would make assumptions based on my sexual orientation, and that it might somehow overshadow everything else that I am. In retrospect, I realize that I was making assumptions too. People certainly have a tendency to prejudge character based on unrelated traits, but trying to guess what others are thinking about me is a diversion from the more important work of questioning my own assumptions and building a meaningful life.

Department: Biological Chemistry