Funding opportunities

CIRM Bridges to the Stem Cell Research Training Grant

Funding Type: 
Bridges
Grant Number: 
TB1-01186
Principle Investigator: 
Funds requested: 
$1 732 164
Funding Recommendations: 
Recommended
Grant approved: 
Yes
Public Abstract: 
The field of stem cell biology has developed into a rapidly expanding technology offering novel therapeutic approaches to human disease. California has taken the lead in the development and expansion of these technologies. There is critical need to recruit, educate, and train the next generation of scientists that will work on achieving these goals. The focus of our program will be to recruit students from California’s large and diverse population, and to provide them with the educational and technical skills that will allow them to pursue careers in stem-cell research. The strength of our proposal include our ability to effectively utilize our geographical location by recruiting students from our home institution and community college partners and train them effectively to carry out successful research internships with our host institutions. The greatest key to the success of our plan relies on our geographical location and the collaborations and partnerships we established throughout our region. We have established partnerships with the leaders in stem cell research in academia including the [REDACTED]. In addition, or students will have the option to intern in premiere biotechnology companies including [REDACTED]. Furthermore, we propose to develop a seminar series and enhanced curriculum that will serve to educate the general student population and community on the progress and potential of stem cell research. Our collaborative commitments with our community college, academic and industry partners will ensure the success of our students and ultimate progress in regenerative medicine. We will recruit and select a minimum of thirty students, ten students per year, from three different academic institutions. These students will then be matched with host internships labs through an interview process. Once the students have been matched with a lab, each cohort of ten students will attend the Stem Cell Techniques course developed at [REDACTED]. Once completed, students will be placed in a 12-month internship experience at one of the labs mentioned above. During this time, they will be enrolled full-time at the originating institution and will also attend a seminar series. We believe that through our fortunate geographical location, access to diverse students and research opportunities and development of new programs we will be creating and contributing exceptional prospects for the creation of a new Stem Cell workforce of California.
Statement of Benefit to California: 
Stem cell biology has developed into a rapidly expanding technology offering novel therapeutic approaches to human disease. California has taken the lead in the development and expansion of these technologies. There is critical need to recruit, educate, and train the next generation of scientists that will work on achieving these goals. The focus of our program will be to recruit students from California’s large and diverse population, and to provide them with the educational and technical skills that will allow them to pursue careers in stem-cell research. Our benefit to the state of California comes from increasing the stem cell research workforce available and educating the general public about stem cell research. We will train 30 new undergraduate students with specific expertise in new and innovative stem cell research. Furthermore, we will be developing the academic coursework to teach all students, through general education-level courses and major-specific courses, about stem cells, including research, ethics and opportunities. This proposal will greatly increase the knowledge about stem cells to the general public as well as specifically aiding in the development of the future workforce of stem cell researchers in California.
Review Summary: 
This proposal from the home institution seeks to develop an internship program to recruit students of diverse backgrounds to provide them with the educational and technical training in stem cell research. Ten students will be selected each year as interns from the home institution and from two local community colleges. The program is open to both undergraduate and graduate students at the home institution and to undergraduates at the partnering community colleges, all of which have biotechnology programs. The home institution will develop a new curriculum to enhance stem cell training, including lectures and laboratory work on cell culture and stem cell techniques. They will also develop a seminar series open to interns, science majors, the general student population and the community. Students will be matched with internship opportunities available at multiple local academic, research and commercial institutions through an application and interview process. Prior to starting the internship, students will attend a stem cell techniques training course offered through one of the host institutions. Students will participate in research during a twelve-month internship. Overall reviewers were enthusiastic about this program. They recognized the diversity of potential research internship experience as a major strength of this proposal. Students will be able to select from variety of academic institutions as well as biotech companies involved in stem cell related research and development. Not only are there diverse internship opportunities, but also these opportunities are for the hands-on training at world – class laboratories. Reviewers appreciated the twelve-month duration of the internship and considered it sufficient to achieve the educational goals. One reviewer considered the curriculum component of the proposal as somewhat weak. She/he noted that at the home institution the new lecture/laboratory course to be developed is one of the major entry points for an internship, but its fit with the overall curriculum was unclear. This reviewer also noted that the entry curriculum for the internship was unique to each of the three institutions selecting interns, potentially resulting in varying levels of preparedness. Reviewers liked the process for selection of interns, which includes an application from potential interns that is reviewed by a selection committee including the Program Director (PD) from the home institution as well as representatives from both partnering community colleges and host institutions, followed by interviews. Reviewers considered adequate the plan to monitor the progress of interns through quarterly interactions with the PD. Reviewers recognized the experience and commitment of the home institution in managing and providing adequate resources to training programs. They highlighted the considerable track record of the home institution in the management of a variety of programs designed to broaden participation of underrepresented groups in science. Reviewers also considered as strengths of the program the partnerships the home institution has established with local community colleges that should further increase the likelihood of involving underrepresented minorities in the internship program and the partnerships with academic and biotech host institutions which should provide a breadth of research opportunities to interns. There found evidence of commitment from these institutions to be adequate. The reviewers considered the Program Director to be well qualified to manage the program because of his/her previous experience in administering research programs for undergraduates and in mentoring racial and ethnic minority students. The advisory board was considered appropriate but would benefit by additional members from the industry partners. Overall, the reviewers were enthusiastic about this program based on the internship recruitment opportunities, the track record of the home institution and the scope and quality of the internship opportunities.
Conflicts: 

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