$1 616 363
Statement of Benefit to California:
The proposal is to establish a stem cell research and regenerative medicine certificate program that will train up to 30 undergraduate students (10 students per year over three years) from diverse socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds in stem cell biology in collaboration with two major California institutions. The first phase of the program will consist of two components: coursework in cellular and molecular biology and stem cell laboratory methods and at least one semester of independent research at the home institution. The faculty will select students for internships based on their performance in this first phase of the program. These students will then take a laboratory course in human embryonic stem cell techniques and conduct research during a 12-month internship at either of two host institutions. Upon completion of the internship training, students will return to the parent institution and formally present the research they conducted during their internship. The home institution further plans to promote stem cell research and regenerative medicine by developing a general education course on stem cell research with a local community college and by implementing seminar series on stem cell biology for trainees, the campus community and local medical professionals. In addition, a stem cell biology workshop for local secondary school biology educators is proposed. Reviewers were very enthusiastic this proposal. They considered the preparation of students for the internship to be excellent, and the internship opportunities to be outstanding. The reviewers also considered the proposed plan of the home institution to provide awareness of stem cell research to the local community through a general education course, seminars and workshops to be an interesting and unique aspect of this proposal. Reviewers considered an important strength of this program to be the preparation of the students for the internship by providing relevant course work and laboratory experience in stem cell research and by requiring one semester of independent research prior to applying for the internship. They believed that this should allow the program to select students who have a very good chance of succeeding during the internship at the host institution. Reviewers considered the internship opportunities at the host institutions to be outstanding. One reviewer expressed concerns about the challenges imposed by the distances between the home institution and the host institutions but another reviewer pointed out that the program requested funding to help with living and transportation. The reviewers considered the home institutional commitment to be strong and noted that the home institution has committed funds to renovate their current stem cell facility for use with human embryonic stem cells. They also commented that the home institution has a strong track record of training in cell biology and molecular biology. Partnering arrangements with each of the internship-host institutions have been developed as evidenced by the strong letters of commitment from each. One reviewer noted that although several letters from the outreach community college partner are included in the proposal, none are from upper level administrators. Thus, although the partnering relationship with this institution is probably strong, there is no evidence it has institutional support. The review panel found the Program Director to be exceptionally well qualified to administer the program with extensive experience in the administration of large undergraduate programs. The advisory committee includes individuals directly involved in the program (both at home and host sites) as well as top home institution administrators, including the president. Some concern was expressed over a single annual advisory committee meeting. Mentoring of the interns appears robust, involving collaboration between faculty at both the home and the host institutions. Reviewers described the recruitment plan as well defined and likely to include under-represented minorities but noted that program lacks tracking of the students following completion of the program. Overall reviewers were very enthusiastic about this program.