The current submission for the Bridges to Stem Cell Research Awards describes a program that will support and enhance California-based stem cell research. The educational component of the program will raise general awareness of stem cell biology and introduce undergraduates to stem cell related issues and techniques that they would not have the opportunity to experience otherwise. The training program will produce a cadre of students that will be highly trained in the specialized techniques of a stem cell biologists. We will develop a program that allows students of biology to perform hands-on training in specialized techniques like fluorescent cell sorting of stem cells, genetic engineering of stem cells, genetic and biochemical characterization of stem cells and their derivatives, and transplantation of stem cells into models of neurological disease. Our interns will attend a CIRM-certified training course in human stem cell culture techniques before they are placed in a internship-host lab. We have a number of potential host labs that support our program and have agreed to accept our interns. The research projects available to our interns will have a significant impact on the advancement of stem cell biology and eventual translation to clinical therapies. We will have mentors for our interns at both the home institute and the host institute. Our advisory committee will be composed of active researches and administrators with substantial experience in extramural programs. Finally, our assessment program will be designed to evaluate the progress of the interns during the internship but will also track the interns honors, awards, publications, and career choices, to determine whether the goals of the Bridges Awards program are being met.
Statement of Benefit to California:
The current submission for the Bridges to Stem Cell Research Awards describes a program that will directly benefit the state of California in a number of ways. Our goal is to produce a cadre of highly trained researchers that are prepared to fill the emerging need of the stem cell-related biotechnology industry that is developing in California as a result of CIRM funding. Our student population is composed primarily of California residents and the state residency is predicted bias the talented interns to remain local. Our training program will have a wide range of techniques that will translate to a skilled workforce that could fill the needs of research institutes, biotechnology lab positions, and university research labs. Our auxiliary programs and courses will send students to stem cell conferences and meetings within California which will support the local institutes and organizations running those meetings. Ultimately, our program will be supporting the large investment that California voters committed to the development of stem cell research and will increase the chances of advances in this exciting research area.