CIRM Stem Cell Internship Program

CIRM Stem Cell Internship Program

Funding Type: 
Bridges
Grant Number: 
TB1-01193
Award Value: 
$3,587,905
Status: 
Active
Public Abstract: 
This program will provide advanced laboratory training in stem cell techniques for a total of ten, high-achieving undergraduate and master’s graduate students each year. This training will expand the pool of personnel with the state-of-the-art training necessary to undertake careers in stem cell and regenerative medicine research. Trainees will be recruited from existing and highly successful science research preparation programs that draw from the university’s diverse student population and include students that might not otherwise have the opportunity to acquire the skills to succeed in a stem cell research lab. A new curriculum at the home institution includes an advanced stem cell lecture course, research methods preparation, research seminars, and a general education curriculum, which together will enhance understanding of stem cell science amongst trainees and the general university population. After trainees take the stem cell lecture course and research methods preparation, they will take a short-course at a shared research lab, which will be followed directly by the focus of the program, a 12-month internship experience at one of four local stem cell research facilities. During the internship, trainees will attend stem cell research seminars and meet monthly with other trainees, as well as home and host institution faculty and administrators; these meetings are designed to integrate the internship experience with the proposed auxiliary educational activities, and to optimize mentorship of the trainees, as well as assessment of trainee progress and program goals. Culminating components of the program include a written research paper and a presentation describing internship activities for undergraduate-level trainees, and a written thesis and oral thesis defense for graduate-level trainees. Finally, the stem cell lecture course and general education curricula, as well as the establishment of research and training collaborations between the home and host institution faculty, provide program sustainability beyond the initial award period.
Statement of Benefit to California: 
Human embryonic stem cells can provide the wherewithal for stimulating the growth of replacement tissues for diseased organs and ultimately can yield cures for diseases such as diabetes, neurological degenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and cardiac failure. Beginning with basic research methods and culminating with hands-on experience with human embryonic stem cells, the training of a new generation of scientists to address these questions must begin in earnest in California’s major universities, both at the undergraduate and graduate level. Our numerous life sciences faculty members, who utilize stem cell research techniques in their pursuit of the basic processes controlling cell regeneration, can serve effectively as mentors for student trainees. These faculty focus in their labs on fundamental problems, including stem cell replacement of damaged heart tissue, potentiation of stem cells to retard cardiac aging, stem cell replacement of arterial wall macrophages, stem cell molecular mechanisms underlying nervous system regeneration and the cell signals that trigger differentiation of stem cells into specific cell lineages. Our proposed training program will involve students in 12 month internships at major local research centers and will serve to expand the stem cell research community in California by significantly increasing the number of young investigators qualified to conduct leading edge stem cell research.
Progress Report: 

Year 1

The fourth year of the SDSU/CIRM Stem Cell Internship Program has provided eleven undergraduate students with the technical knowledge and the experience to work in the field of regenerative medicine. The majority of these students have worked directly with stem cells at leading institutes in the San Diego area, including the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, the Scripps Research Institute, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, the Sanford/Burnham Medical Research Institute and the University of California at San Diego. Many of these students, due to their backgrounds, would otherwise have no access to this state of the art training. As a result of this program, many of these students have graduated with the scientific skills needed to continue on in the field, doing direct research in both academia and the biotech industry. Furthermore, several of the students are continuing with their education in order to obtain higher degrees, at the Master's and PhD levels. Our program at SDSU has also provided the students with opportunities to gain further scientific knowledge of the field, outside their host labs, and to stretch themselves into becoming representatives for not only the field of regenerative medicine but also representatives of San Diego State University and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. They have become true scientists by attending several meetings at the international level, including Stem Cells on the Mesa in La Jolla in October of 2012 and recently, June 2013, the Annual Meeting of the ISSCR, in Boston, where they met with experts in the field and also presented their own research as part of the poster sessions. Because these students have had extensive training and experience in state of the art laboratories, as well as opportunities to share their newly gained knowledge, their expertise will strengthen the field of stem cell research in California, and beyond, by not only increasing the pool of young investigators, but also through their work on further studies in basic research and in translating this basic research into medical treatments.

Year 2

The fifth year of the San Diego State University (SDSU)/ California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) Stem Cell Internship Program (SCIP) has provided ten interns with the technical skills and the experience to work in the field of regenerative medicine. These students have worked directly with stem cells, both embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells, as well as other organisms used in the study of regenerative properties, e.g. zebra fish. The interns carried out their research at leading institutes in San Diego, including the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, the Scripps Research Institute, The Sanford/Burnham Medical Research Institute and the University of California, San Diego. Many of these students, due to their background, would have otherwise not had access to research at this level. As a result of their training they will bring their knowledge of regenerative medicine into a great many areas of public interest, including basic and translational research, the biotech industry and medicine and dentistry. Our students have also become representatives for the field of regenerative medicine and well as for SDSU and CIRM. We believe strongly that the SCIP interns will continue to represent the regenerative field in their future endeavors as well. SCIP interns attended several meetings at both the regional and international level, including the Annual Stem Cell Meeting on the Mesa in La Jolla in October, 2013 and the Annual Meeting for the International Society for Stem Cell Research in Vancouver, June 2014, where they met with experts in the field and presented their own research as part of the poster sessions. Because these students have had extensive training and experience in state of the art laboratories, as well as opportunities to share their newly gained knowledge, their expertise will strengthen the field of stem cell research in California and beyond. The SCIP Program has not only increased the pool of young investigators studying regenerative medicine, but also has also accelerated scientific progress in basic and translational stem cell research. Finally the SCIP Program has enabled SDSU to harness the great academic potential of student minds found in the largest university in San Diego.

© 2013 California Institute for Regenerative Medicine