Funding opportunities

CIRM Stem Cell Research Biotechnology Training Program at CSULB

Funding Type: 
Grant Number: 
Principle Investigator: 
Funds requested: 
$1 337 700
Funding Recommendations: 
Grant approved: 
Public Abstract: 
Statement of Benefit to California: 
Review Summary: 
The goals of the program are to develop and offer courses for science and non-science students in the theory and potential of stem cell research and to recruit and train selected students to enter the research workforce. A new general education course will be developed at a local community college. This course is intended to be a component of a planned certificate program at the community college and to be a bridge course for students entering the applicant institution’s program. The applicant institution proposes to train its students through addition of a new stem cell module to an existing lower division science lecture and through a new stem cell training option to be integrated into its existing biotechnology certificate program. This certificate program is open to all BS and MS biological science degree candidates and other qualified post baccalaureate students. Three new courses (stem cell biology, bioethics and public policy, and advanced tissue culture /stem cell techniques laboratory) will be developed and incorporated into the biotechnology certificate program. Following a year-long curriculum of course work that introduces basic aspects of molecular biology, cell biology, and stem cell biology, ten exceptional students will be selected as interns and will participate in the advanced tissue culture /stem cell techniques laboratory and in a human embryonic stem cell techniques course. Thereafter students will participate in research internships for ten months in laboratories at two host institutions. Reviewers found this proposal to have a very nice balance of attention to non-science majors as well as to students who aim to have careers in biological sciences, particularly stem cell biology. They considered major strengths of the proposed program to be the integration of the internship program into the existing biotechnology certificate program (itself part of a comprehensive degree granting program) and the educational preparation of students for internships. New courses in stem cell biology and ethical considerations will be developed that will provide an orientation in these topics to all students in the biotechnology program, as well as providing a strong foundation for those students selected as interns. In addition to the new stem cell courses, existing courses in biotechnology, molecular biology and molecular genetics also contribute to a strong foundation for the internship experience. Student performance in this first year of coursework will be a basis for recruitment for the stem cell internships. Finally, an intense weeklong “finishing school” in stem cell biology methodology will ensure that the interns are very well prepared for the internship experience. Reviewers found the internship component of this proposal to be extremely well designed. Local advisers will help to place the students into appropriate internship laboratories, monitor the interns’ progress, and evaluate their performance. Reviewers noted that internship opportunities are available at 49 laboratories affiliated with two host institutions, providing a wide range of excellent and appropriate research experiences relating to stem cell biology. The reviewers considered the ten month duration of the internships to be of sufficient duration to provide adequate hands-on experience and to meet the training needs of the interns but would have preferred a full year internship. Students will be adequately mentored during the internship by meeting with the lab PI and with a faculty mentor at the home institution, and they will present their research findings at lab meetings and at local professional meetings. Overall, the reviewers believed that the well integrated nature of this program will add substantial value to the individual components. Reviewers lauded this proposal for its very strong level of institutional commitment. The applicant institution has committed substantial resources, personnel, and facilities to the proposed Bridges program and there are adequate educational and research resources to train the students in biotechnology, cell biology, and related disciplines. The development of new educational offerings (Stem Cell Biology, Bioethics and Public Policy, and Advanced Tissue Culture/Stem Cell Techniques Laboratory), the available mentoring resources, and support for a Fiscal Coordinator for the program demonstrate the substantial commitment by the home institution to the Bridges program. Reviewers also lauded the well developed plans for partner institutions, including a local community college and two host institutions for laboratory internships. They noted that well qualified individuals at each partner institution have been identified and are effectively incorporated into the leadership, design, and monitoring of program activities. Reviewers further considered the availability of 49 laboratories as internship sites as demonstration of the host institutions’ commitment to the program as well. The reviewers agreed that the Program Director (PD) was very well qualified to lead the efforts described in this proposal. The PD has considerable experience in research, education, mentoring and advising. She/he was founding director of the biotechnology program, has advised more than fifty BS and fifteen MS degree students, and has participated as a mentor in the MARC, Hughes, and Beckman Scholars programs. The reviewers noted that each partner institution has identified correspondingly well qualified individuals to serve in leadership roles for the proposal at their institution. Reviewers considered the advisory team to be appropriate. It includes representatives of each of the participating institutions. One reviewer thought the Advisory Committee would be strengthened by inclusion of individuals who are not directly associated with the program. The roles of the Advisory Committee are well described, and include guiding the planning and performance of the CIRM Bridges program, facilitating inter-institutional interactions, and publicizing the program. Reviewers favorably commented on the plan to recruit students to the program noting that the diverse student population of the applicant institution (>60% minority), the established MARC, RISE, Bridges to Baccalaureate programs, and the interactions with the local community college should yield a diverse student population. Reviewers noted that the institution has a good minority recruitment record in other programs. The reviewers expressed some concern about the assessment program and felt it warranted further development. Overall, reviewers consider this to be a program worthy of funding given the integration into an existing certificate program, the strong preparation for internships, the well thought out internship program, the strength of the institutional commitment and the quality of the program director and program administration.

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