With funding from CIRM, 18 high school students from backgrounds underrepresented in the sciences will have the opportunity to pursue a summer research project in stem cell biology at a major research university. Students will spend the bulk of their summer conducting research under the guidance of a mentor scientist. In addition, they will meet weekly to build strong ties with their peers and learn to: 1) successfully apply to college and for financial aid, 2) communicate in writing about their research, and 3) give a poster presentation and a scientific talk. Alumni from this program have been shown to pursue careers in the sciences in great numbers; thus, many of these students will likely continue working in stem cell research. Irrespective of their career choice, all CIRM-funded alumni will understand the importance of stem cell research, thereby becoming "stem cell ambassadors" who can help others in California understand this work and advocate for continued funding.
Statement of Benefit to California:
This proposed project will further the educational and scientific careers of high school students from backgrounds underrepresented in the sciences. It will also help research scientists learn how to mentor students from disadvantaged backgrounds. In doing so, this work will both diversify and build the life science workforce in California. Diversifying the scientific field is of critical importance to the state of California: as just one example, a more diverse biomedical workforce has been repeatedly cited as a mechanism for addressing disparities in health and healthcare. Additionally, shortages in the life science workforce from technicians to advanced scientists are predicted in California. This program will help California citizens become a part of this workforce by helping students matriculate to college, complete their undergraduate education, and pursue careers in the sciences.
Reviewers agreed that this is a good program that predominantly serves students from underrepresented backgrounds. Reviewers were impressed by the program’s history and track record and noted the excellent qualifications of the Program Director. The proposal provided strong data on past student participants, the majority of whom have attended and graduated from college. Reviewers acknowledged that the applicant institution has an abundance of excellent stem cell labs, but there was some concern about the lack of sufficient detail regarding the placement of trainees with mentors. Reviewers were also concerned that the second discipline was weakly developed and poorly integrated into the broader training program. Overall, reviewers agreed that was a solid program with an excellent record of helping underrepresented students to gain exposure to medical sciences and boost college admissions. Reviewers’ enthusiasm was lowered by the weakly planned second discipline activities but agreed that the program meets most of the objectives of the RFA.
- A motion was made to recommend this application for funding. The motion carried.