$1 144 517
Recommended if funds allow
Statement of Benefit to California:
This proposal involves collaboration between the applicant institution and two local community colleges to train 20 undergraduate and 6 Master’s level students. The respective 6-month and 12-month internships will be performed at 3 host institutions: 2 academic and 1 for-profit. Each participating home campus will develop a tissue culture course and one of the host institutions will develop an intensive, 1 week course in stem cell techniques, a required course for all participants prior to their internship. At the end of the internship, trainees will present their research at a symposium. Overall, reviewers expressed only moderate enthusiasm for this proposal. The proposed program fits well with ongoing efforts to increase stem cell research at the applicant institution, and the collaboration with the community colleges serves to diversify the intern population. The coordinators at the community colleges formerly were students or faculty at the applicant institution, providing confidence in the management of this collaboration. Similarly, the applicant institution has a long partnership with one of the host institutions, as many of its faculty members have received their degrees from that institution. Although one reviewer felt that this was a well written and well organized proposal, others pointed out that sufficient details about the proposed course work were lacking, and the requirements for MS students to complete their Master’s thesis and follow-up after their internship were unclear. The undergraduate curriculum lacks a course in developmental biology, and a 1-week stem cell techniques course was considered inadequate. Satisfactory details on student mentoring during both the didactic component and the internships were included, and reviewers liked the inclusion of a signed agreement between interns and mentors to manage expectations. Reviewers also appreciated that internship placement involves selection from possible projects and interviews with potential mentors, as this approach will facilitate finding a good match for the interns. However, reviewers were not satisfied with internship assessment through a certification by the laboratory mentor that requirements have been met, and suggested the inclusion of a final written research report. There is strong support from the applicant institution for this program as the Associate Provost for Research is co-Program Director on this application, so the administration is very involved. However, reviewers were concerned about the level of commitment from the collaborating home institutions, since their letters of support are form letters with only minor modifications. They do note that they will develop the appropriate courses as detailed in the application, but whether they have the expertise to do this is unclear. The partnership with the host institutions was considered solid, as one of the institutions has a growing interest and expertise in stem cell research, and another provides a range of faculty, many of whom have bona fide stem cell credentials. The Program Director is a senior faculty member at the applicant institution and has significant experience in student mentoring. He/she has extensive experience in teaching and a reasonable amount of administrative experience. However, administration of the large proposed program will be more challenging than his/her previous experiences. The co-Program Director is very senior, providing considerable administrative experience. The advisory committee is quite small and would have benefited from the inclusion of some host campus faculty. Overall, although this program had some strong elements, reviewers had only moderate enthusiasm for this proposal.