CIRM Stem Cell Biology Training Program

CIRM Stem Cell Biology Training Program

Funding Type: 
Research Training II
Grant Number: 
TG2-01161
Approved funds: 
$6,162,045
Status: 
Active
Public Abstract: 
This is a proposal to renew funding for the host institution’s Type I Comprehensive Training Program in Stem Cell Biology. Since funding was first applied for in the summer of 2005, stem cell research at the host institution has undergone a major transformation: a center for regenerative medicine and stem cell research was established, and a world class stem cell biologist was recruited to be its director. Seven new faculty, representing a wide spectrum of stem cell-related disciplines, have been recruited as members of the Center. Groundbreaking for construction of a CIRM Stem Cell Facility took place in early [REDACTED] 2008. This initiative was launched with a multi-million dollar gift from a private foundation, and was recently matched with a Major Facilities Award from CIRM. Also with CIRM funding, the host institution has developed a Training Program in Stem Cell Biology which has thus far supported 24 individuals. Key features of this program are a flagship course in stem cell biology, co-taught with two neighboring institutions, as well as courses in stem cell ethics, developmental biology and a practical course in the culture of human ES cells. A yearly retreat was instituted and created a website created, which will soon be the principal mode of recruitment. A major benefit of our stem cell training program has been the promotion of interactions among stem cell biologists, developmental biologists and clinical scientists. The breadth of the program, in terms of the number of faculty and wide range of their expertise in stem cell biology, will provide trainees with many choices of mentor, and it will also make for training that is strongly interdisciplinary. The host institution seeks to continue and improve what is believed to be already an excellent training program in stem cell biology. Funding for 6 predoctoral fellows, 8 postdoctoral fellows, and 2 clinical fellows (a total of 16 slots) is requested. These individuals will be supported for two years, during which they will conduct research with one (or more) of 39 potential mentors. They will take courses in stem cell biology, stem cell ethics, as well as selected optional courses, including developmental biology. They will attend and present their work in the weekly combined stem cell biology/developmental biology research forum and will attend a yearly retreat. Finally, they will benefit from the extensive informal interactions among the students and faculty in stem cell biology. The host institution is also extremely pleased to partner with several nearby institutions for CIRM's "Bridges to Stem Cell Research" program. This program would enable these institutions to place trainees in stem cell labs at the host institution. We note that these collaborative efforts will broaden the influence of our training program substantially and make efficient use of state stem cell resources
Statement of Benefit to California: 
This is a proposal to renew funding for the host institution’s Type I Comprehensive Training Program in Stem Cell Biology. Since funding was first applied for in the summer of 2005, stem cell research at the host institution has undergone a major transformation: a center for regenerative medicine and stem cell research was established, and groundbreaking for construction of a CIRM Stem Cell Facility took place in [REDACTED] 2008. The recent establishment of [REDACTED] an innovative agreement among 6 research institutions in [REDACTED] (including the host institution) allows members to share training programs, scientific core facilities and expertise, thus achieving highly efficient use of state funding. In mid-2006, the host institution instituted a Training Program in Stem Cell Biology (which has thus far supported 24 individuals), and seeks to continue and to improve what is believed to be already an excellent training program in stem cell biology. This program will bring great educational, scientific and economic benefit to Californians. Key features of this program are a flagship course in stem cell biology, co-taught with two neighboring institutions, as well as courses in stem cell ethics, developmental biology and a practical course in the culture of human ES cells. A major benefit of our stem cell training program has been the promotion of interactions among stem cell biologists, developmental biologists and clinical scientists. The breadth of the program, in terms of the number of faculty and wide range of their expertise in stem cell biology, will make for training that is strongly interdisciplinary. The structure of the courses, capitalizing on the rich distance learning capabilities of the host institution to produce a highly interactive, yet flexible, course accommodates the diversity of pre- and post-doctoral students as well as clinical fellows. An added benefit is this course structure will allow for enrollment by interested parties statewide and nationally. Further, the agreement between the Institutions to contribute exceptional didactic training to the program regardless of funding by this mechanism truly demonstrates the commitment of each to training in this field. The host institution is also extremely pleased to partner with several nearby institutions for CIRM's "Bridges to Stem Cell Research" program. This program would enable these institutions to place trainees in stem cell labs at the host institution. We note that these collaborative efforts will broaden the influence of our training program substantially and make efficient use of state stem cell resources.
Progress Report: 

Year 1

The focus of USC’s training program in stem cell biology and medicine continues to be to train the next generation of stem cell scientists, with the overall goal of aleviating human suffering caused by deficiencies in stem cell function. Our CIRM training grant funds doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, and clinical fellows. Doctoral students are pursuing a Ph.D. degree; postdoctoral fellows seek training beyond their Ph.D. or M.D.; clinical fellows are in the final stages of their training and are seeking to augment their clinical training with research experience. Common to each of these groups is practical training in which fellows conduct research in laboratories of USC faculty members working in diverse areas of stem cell biology. An equally important part of the program is a series of seminars designed to expose students to cutting edge stem cell science and the most accomplished scientists in the field. We also expect the students themselves to present their own work to their peers, and we have provided several venues for them to do so, including a weekly Stem Cell and Developmental Biology seminar series, a yearly Stem Cell Retreat, and a Stem Cell Day at USC in which students and fellows present their latest work. Our training program also includes didactic classes in stem cell biology, developmental biology and stem cell ethics. These classes provide the most advanced information about stem cell science, serving to immerse students in the latest scientific literature and provide them with a deep awareness of the bioethical issues that stem cell scientists face. Finally, as of this year, we are offering our students and fellows a series of professional development seminars focusing on issues such as how to prepare a resume, what to expect on a job interview, and how to approach the choice between an academic position and a position in industry. Some highlights and accomplishments of our program this year include the following. Provost Professor Andrew McMahon, formerly of Harvard, was recruited to become the Director of the Eli and Edythe Broad-CIRM Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research. Dr. McMahon is internationally known for his work on mechanisms of organ formation in mammals, and for devising new methods to study gene function. Dr. McMahon is now in the process of building the Broad institute, and is actively recruiting new stem cell faculty. Another milestone in stem cell research at USC is the inauguration of a new graduate program in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. This program, one of only a few in the country, will offer Ph.D. degrees in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. We expect the first class of students to matriculate in the program this fall. A number of our fellows have contributed to important advances in stem cell research. Here are a few examples: Dr. Maksim Plikus, a CIRM postdoctoral fellow, published nine outstanding papers in the area of skin development and regeneration with his mentor Cheng-Ming Chuong, and this year was appointed an Assistant Professor at UC Irvine. A publication by CIRM postdoctoral fellow, Eve Kandyba, also in the area of skin regeneration, was noted by the faculty of 1000 as being of “special significance.” Dr. Gabrielle Davis, a clinical fellow, presented her work on the use of stem cells to alleviate lesions caused by radiation treatments of cancer at the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (September 2012) in Geneva. During the last reporting period, fellows supported by the training grant have published a number of articles in high impact journals, including Developmental Cell, Molecular Cell, Science, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. These papers focused on a variety of stem cell-related topics including how stem cells determine the shape of the developing jaw, how, in molecular terms, stress hormones exert their effects on stem cells, the relationship between cancer stem cells and obesity, and new methods for the modification of the rat genome to produce disease models. USC’s Stem Cell Training Program continues to train the next generation of stem cell biologists in how to conduct rigorous, cutting edge science, and how to make a real difference in people’s lives.

Year 2

The focus of USC’s training program in stem cell biology and medicine continues to be to train the next generation of stem cell scientists, with the overall goal of alleviating human suffering caused by deficiencies in stem cell function. Our CIRM training grant funds predoctoral students pursuing a Ph.D. degree,; postdoctoral fellows seeking training beyond their Ph.D, M.D. or other health related doctoral degrees (e.g. DDS, DPT, DrPH), and clinical fellows (M.D.s), in the final stages of their training, seeking to augment their clinical training with research experience. Common to each of these groups is practical training in whichwhere fellows conduct research in the laboratories of USC faculty members who work in diverse areas of stem cell biology. An equally important part of the program is a series of seminars designed to expose students to cutting edge stem cell science and the most accomplished scientists in the field. We also expect the students themselves to present their own work to their peers, and we have provided several venues for them to do so, including a weekly Stem Cell and Developmental Biology seminar series, a yearly Stem Cell Retreat, and a Stem Cell Day at USC in which students and fellows present their latest work. Our training program also includes didactic classes in stem cell biology, developmental biology and stem cell ethics. These classes provide the most advanced information about stem cell science, serving to immerse students in the latest scientific literature and provide them with a deep awareness of the bioethical issues that stem cell scientists face. Finally, as of this year, we are offering our students and fellows a series of career and professional development seminars focusing on issues such as the practical steps in how to prepare a resume, what to expect on a job interview, and how to approach the choice between an academic position and a position in industry. Some highlights and accomplishments of our program during the reporting period include the following. Dr. Douglas Feldman, a CIRM postdoctoral fellow, a first author of a PNAS paper in 2012, was appointed an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology at USC. Dr. Feldman is a member of the Southern California Research Center For Alcoholic Liver and Pancreatic Diseases. Another milestone in stem cell research at USC is the inauguration of a new graduate program, Development, Stem Cells, and Regenerative Medicine (DSR). This program, one of only a few in the country, will offer Ph.D. degrees in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. We expect the first class of students to matriculate into the program this summer of 2014. A number of our fellows have contributed to important advances in stem cell research. For By way of example, Dr. Maksim Plikus, a former CIRM postdoctoral fellow and current Assistant Professor and member of the UC Irvine Stem Cell Research Center in the Department of Developmental and Cell Biology at UC Irvine, has published several outstanding papers in the area of skin development and regeneration. Our fellows (current and past) continue to present their research work at local, state, national and international events. We show an abbreviated listAn abbreviated select list can be seen below: 2013 • USC Molecular and Computational Biology Retreat (Qiuyu Guo) • Orange County Summit on Regenerative Medicine (Maksim Plikus, Ph.D) • West Coast SDB meeting in Cambria, CA (Bartosz Balczerski, Ph.D) • 17th International Congress of Developmental Biology, Cancun, Mexico (Bartosz Balczerski, Ph.D) 2014 • USC Research Center for Liver Diseases 19th Annual Symposium (Douglas Feldman, Ph.D) • World Ophthalmology Congress (WOC2014 -upcoming) Tokyo, Japan (Hossein Nazar Khanamirl, M.D.) • 3rd Annual Tri-Institutional Stem Cell Retreat (upcoming) San Francisco (Michaela Patterson, Ph.D.) • Gordon Research Conference Craniofacial Morphogenesis & Tissue Regeneration (upcoming), Lucca, Italy, (Camilla Teng) USC’s Stem Cell Training Program continues to train the next generation of stem cell biologists in the theory and techniques needed to conduct rigorous, cutting edge stem cell science that has the promise of resulting in real differences in people’s lives.

© 2013 California Institute for Regenerative Medicine