Funding opportunities

Funding Type: 
Research Training II
Grant Number: 
Principle Investigator: 
Funds requested: 
$3 886 191
Funding Recommendations: 
Grant approved: 
Public Abstract: 

This proposal describes a Type I stem cell training program including a School of Medicine, a Division of Biological Sciences, a School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and a School of Engineering. This program is designed to provide interdisciplinary training in stem cell biology and medicine by taking advantage of the unique interdisciplinary and inter-institutional environment. A major goal is to train a cadre of young basic and clinical scientists and engineers in the use of quantitative and engineering approaches from the physical sciences such as chemistry, computation, and materials science to make novel discoveries in basic and clinical biomedicine. Basic and clinical science and engineering trainees who complete our program will be ideally suited for future careers as academic or industrial scientists investigating stem cell biology and medicine, or using stem cell based methods to develop new therapeutic approaches to human diseases. Our approach will be to build on each trainee’s specialized foundation of basic or clinical knowledge and provide: •Rigorous education in the principles and applications of embryonic and adult stem cell biology from humans and model organisms •Research training in physical, computational, and engineering methods that can be used to harness stem cells to attack problems of basic and clinical science and their uses to develop new understanding and new therapies •Education in the problems and outlooks associated with the ethical, legal, social, and economic issues associated with stem cell biology Our training program will also serve as a catalyst for the integration of our expanding stem cell biology research and training efforts. Our training is structured to take advantage of the [REDACTED] scientific and medical community by engaging in collaboration with three other institutions. We are requesting financial support for 16 trainees (6 graduate, 5 postdoctoral, 5 clinical fellow).

Statement of Benefit to California: 

Benefit of this Program to California This program will benefit the people and the state of California by providing high-quality training in the scientific, clinical, social, and ethical aspects of stem cell research to the scientists and clinicians who will develop and apply future therapies in this rapidly emerging field.

Review Summary: 

This is a proposal to support a Type I stem cell training program involving several departments and schools at the applicant institution. The goal of the program is to train 6 predoctoral students, 5 postdoctoral fellows and 6 clinical fellows in stem cell basic and translational science. In addition to teaching the basic principles of embryonic and adult stem cell biology, the program integrates quantitative and engineering approaches from the physical sciences such as chemistry, computation, and materials science. It also includes education in the ethical, legal, social, and economic issues associated with stem cell biology. This program collaborates with other stem cell programs in the local region.

Reviewers commented that this program is well designed and outlined. The training environment is very good and there appears to be effective leveraging of nearby institutes with very strong stem cell research programs. A major strength of this institution is a very strong community of bioengineering and clinician-scientists in the field of stem cell research, which reviewers felt would lead to a comprehensive training experience for predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees as well as clinical fellows. Reviewers particularly liked the intensive core laboratory methods course offered at the institution. A previous CIRM supported training program has enabled the applicant institution to set up a robust structure that includes an excellent didactic-lab course as well as a colloquium and stem cell retreat. Overall, the training program is very strong and addresses the differing needs of graduate students, postdoctoral and clinical trainees.

The Program Director is a Howard Hughes investigator and has strong credentials in terms of scientific expertise, training experience and administration. Similarly, the advisory committee has a nice balance of expertise and types of research that should be helpful.

The mentorship pool that is available to this program was viewed as well qualified and appropriate. Although the breadth and depth of stem cell research at this institution is not as strong as at other large institutions throughout the state, it is growing rapidly due to institutional investment in the area of stem cells. The inclusion of mentorship opportunities at the nearby institutes with very strong stem cell research programs, and their auxiliary activities, is a strength that should be encouraged. There is a very solid basis of training programs that will feed and complement the CIRM program. One attractive strength is the excellent MD/PhD and MD base to support the clinical fellow track and develop clinician-scientists that can help drive translational research in regenerative medicine.

The quality of stem cell research at this institution is growing, and is supported by excellent lab space and resources, including a shared human embryonic stem cell core research and training facility. Several new faculty members in stem cell biology have been recruited over the past few years, lending momentum to the stem cell program overall.

Overall, reviewers were impressed with the applicant institution’s rapidly growing program in stem cell science, and felt that all aspects of the training program were strong.