Funding opportunities

The [REDACTED] Bridges to Regenerative Bioscience Research & Training Program

Funding Type: 
Bridges
Grant Number: 
TB1-01180
Funds requested: 
$1 538 141
Funding Recommendations: 
Not recommended
Grant approved: 
No
Public Abstract: 
[REDACTED] represents the ‘New California’, where dramatic population growth and economic opportunity define California's present and future for the region. It is nationally recognized for teaching, learning, transformational scholarship, and dynamic leadership which engages faculty, students, staff, and community in mutually beneficial and respectful collaboration benefiting the region and society as a whole. [REDACTED] serves a major role in undergraduate education and graduate education at the Master’s level within [REDACTED] California. Founded in [REDACTED], [REDACTED] is the sole public comprehensive university serving the ethnically diverse [REDACTED]. [REDACTED] is designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the Department of Education. The purpose for specifically marketing our Bridges internship program to graduate students is that they have the maturity, background, motivation and time to devote towards a continuous one-year internship and this best addresses the objective of a trained workforce. The program embodies a comprehensive research internship/training experience to develop a marketable repertoire of laboratory skills for stem cell research that we feel meets the minimum requirements for a technically-competent stem cell research assistant. However, to develop and foster our regional pipeline of Master’s students, we plan to hold two Poster symposia at [REDACTED] where students will present their research. Faculty, host-mentors, Advisory Committee, dignitaries, local teachers, and prospective CIRM students will be invited to interact in a comfortable forum with CIRM Bridges students to celebrate student research efforts and raise awareness of the program. [REDACTED] will also enhance our student pipeline with a stem cell/regenerative medicine ‘education-module’ incorporated into GE biology courses to augment our strong cell biology core and collaborate with HCOP and LSAMP campus programs for minority recruitment. We anticipate that these strategies and combination of events would integrate into a comprehensive and sustainable educational program to enrich the demographics pursuing science careers and serve as outreach mechanisms for the community.
Statement of Benefit to California: 
[REDACTED] represents the ‘New California’, where dramatic population growth and economic opportunity define California's present and future for the region. It is nationally recognized for teaching, learning, transformational scholarship, and dynamic leadership which engages faculty, students, staff, and community in mutually beneficial and respectful collaboration benefiting the region and society as a whole. [REDACTED] serves a major role in undergraduate education and graduate education at the Master’s level within [REDACTED] California. Founded in [REDACTED], [REDACTED] is the sole public comprehensive university serving the ethnically diverse [REDACTED]. [REDACTED] is designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the Department of Education. CIRM Bridges to Regenerative Bioscience offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for disadvantaged students to pursue research efforts in a cutting-edge science while getting paid. [REDACTED] will also enhance our student pipeline with a stem cell/regenerative medicine ‘education-module’ incorporated into GE biology courses to augment our strong cell biology core and collaborate with HCOP and LSAMP campus programs for minority recruitment. We anticipate that these strategies and combination of events would integrate into a comprehensive and sustainable educational program to enrich the demographics pursuing science careers and serve as outreach mechanisms for the community.
Review Summary: 
This is a proposal to train thirty Masters students in stem cell science over three years. Students will be incorporated into the existing professional masters in biotechnology program and the masters in biology thesis program. Didactic courses are part of the curriculum (cell culture techniques, molecular biology, bioethics of stem cells) and an initial six-month internship at three partnering research institutions, with renewal option of another 6 months. Multiple progress checks are included with logs and periodic progress reports. There is a 'home mentor team' and a 'host mentor team' to provide guidance to each trainee. Auxiliary activities include weekly seminars, Graduate Record Exam (GRE) preparation sessions and training workshops in various techniques. The applicant institution will use this award to further enhance the didactic offerings related to stem cell biology in its biology curriculum, and to improve the quality of the applicant pool and rigor of the offerings. The strengths of the training plan include the diverse student environment and the very strong research training environments in the stem cell field at the host institutions. The pipeline of students coming through the MS program provides a diverse and accessible pool appropriate for the CIRM Bridges award. The program can effectively leverage the local research community and tap into its established training expertise in this area. There is a solid track record of success in program management of similar programs at the applicant institution that CIRM training grant administrators could build upon. In spite of these strengths, reviewers were not supportive of this application overall. There were several aspects of the program that were considered weak, including the 'lottery' approach to matching students with mentors. Given the importance of the laboratory environment and the fit between mentor and student in these short training programs, reviewers felt that a face-to-face meeting with a potential mentor was required, and more thought should be devoted to the optimal matching. A haphazard collection of activities is proposed to fulfill credit enrollment requirements of the university and does not provide a cohesive training experience for the students. In addition there is a very large reporting burden placed on students - a half-page progress report twice a month, a form including the number of hours that that the student worked needs to be filled out by mentor. Reviewers felt that this reporting burden would suppress the enthusiasm of motivated students. Because of these credit requirements during the internship, it is unclear how much time interns are expected to spend in the host laboratories vs. in classroom or workshop activities. Lack of detail about the host internship laboratories or research opportunities, for instance, suggests lack of commitment on the part of the host institutions. Overall, reviewers commented that this application appeared premature and not ready for prime time. Commitment from the applicant institution seemed high, but the commitment from the host institutions seemed more equivocal. The partnership arrangements are adequate, but some of the letters seem to specify slightly different terms and expectations than outlined in the proposal itself, raising concerns about the commitment and level of communication between the institutions. Importantly, the absence of enthusiastic industry partners is surprising given the established M.S. in biotechnology program; this shortcoming does not engender confidence in the parent program. Leadership of the program was considered adequate. The Program Director is an associate professor with 10 years of experience administering training programs, and with a particular background in programs involving under-represented minority students. The Co-Director brings networking with the local scientific community since s/he recently (2006) finished postdoctoral work at the one of the partnering institutions. There is a solid Advisory Committee structure in place that includes host partner representatives. The administrative plan seems somewhat awkward with monthly web-based meetings of the Advisory committee and some undisclosed number of meetings at host institutions to tour the respective institution and discuss the performance of trainees. Overall, reviewers felt that there were positive elements to this training program but commented that it was not mature enough for funding.
Conflicts: 

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