The proposed project has three major goals. The first is educating the public about the medical, biological, and technological advances of stem cell research and recruiting new scientists into the workforce. The second is training the students in the theory and techniques of stem cell research. The third is retaining these trainees in the California workforce by providing specialized training and laboratory internships, which will lead to long-term career opportunities in stem cell research in California. To educate non-scientists and to increase the number of informed California citizens in the theory and potential of stem cell research, a new general education course will be developed at a local community college as a bridge to our comprehensive university program. A new module also will be added to our existing large, lower division, general education lecture course “Introduction to Human Diseases.” This course may be the only life sciences many students will learn in college and could initiate a life-long appreciation of the biological sciences, including stem cell technologies. Such an appreciation will have a significant impact on our society given the role of the voting population in the funding and promoting of advanced technologies. The California stem cell research workforce will be enhanced by recruiting up to ten students each year to enter a new, two-year, stem cell training option which will be added to an existing Biotechnology Certificate Program. The first year will be training at our institution, and the second will be internships at stem cell host institutions Of the approximately 2000 students in Chemistry and the Biological Sciences, those interested in the program will enroll in specific fall semester courses as part of their B.S. or M.S. degree plan, or in the Biotechnology Certificate Program. Exceptional students from this pool who demonstrate reliability and motivation will be invited to apply for the internship. Students who are accepted will attend a stem cell techniques course at [REDACTED] and will choose the host stem cell research laboratory for their ten-month internship at either the [REDACTED] or [REDACTED]. The students will be extensively mentored throughout the program. Trainee progress will be assessed via standardized reporting, which will be completed by the students and the head of the host laboratories. The program will include a program director and an Advisory Committee consisting of the Program Director, two representatives from our institution, and one representative from each of the collaborating institutions. [REDACTED] has a long history of successfully training large numbers of students for the California workforce and for graduate study. The CIRM Bridges to stem cell research training program will integrate well with the existing programs and augment the Biotechnology Certificate Program.
The goals of the proposed program include training students to enter the stem cell research workforce, recruiting students to work in stem cell laboratories, and educating non-scientists in the theory and potential of stem cell research. The proposed project has three major facets. The first is educating the public about the medical, biological, and technological advances of stem cell research and recruiting new scientists into the workforce. The second is training students in the theory and techniques of stem cell research. The third is retaining these trainees in the California workforce by providing specialized training and experience that will lead to career opportunities in stem cell research in California. To educate non-scientists and to increase the number of informed California citizens in the theory and potential of stem cell research, a new general education course will be developed at a local community college as a bridge to the our comprehensive university program. A new module will also be added to our existing large, lower division, general education lecture course “Introduction to Human Diseases”. This course is extremely important because this is, in many cases, the only life sciences many students will learn in college. This course could instill excitement and enthusiasm for life-long learning in students, many of whom dislike or are fearful of science. This is critical for personal well being, and may have a significant impact on our society given the role of the voting population in the funding and promotion of advanced technologies. We enroll just under 38,000 students who reflect the ethnically diverse population of the surrounding area. The stem cell training program can be integrated into many of our existing B.S. and M.S. degree programs, and ensures the currency of courses for many of our students. The Biotechnology Certificate Program was established at our institution in 1994 to train undergraduate, post baccalaureate, and Master’s degree students to enter the California workforce. The stem cell training program will become an option in this program. The current Biotechnology Program is open to all B.S. and M.S. degree students in the departments of Biological Sciences and Chemistry & Biochemistry (approximately 2000 students), and qualified post baccalaureate students. This new option will take two years to complete. The first year will be training at our institution, and the second will be internships at stem cell host institutions. We plan to train up to ten students each year in this internship program. [REDACTED] has a long history of successfully training large numbers of students for the California workforce and for graduate study. Both the students and the State of California will greatly benefit from this training program as it will facilitate the establishment and maintenance of active stem cell research laboratories and the translation of this technology into the regenerative medicine marketplace.
The goals of the program are to develop and offer courses for science and non-science students in the theory and potential of stem cell research and to recruit and train selected students to enter the research workforce. A new general education course will be developed at a local community college. This course is intended to be a component of a planned certificate program at the community college and to be a bridge course for students entering the applicant institution’s program. The applicant institution proposes to train its students through addition of a new stem cell module to an existing lower division science lecture and through a new stem cell training option to be integrated into its existing biotechnology certificate program. This certificate program is open to all BS and MS biological science degree candidates and other qualified post baccalaureate students. Three new courses (stem cell biology, bioethics and public policy, and advanced tissue culture /stem cell techniques laboratory) will be developed and incorporated into the biotechnology certificate program. Following a year-long curriculum of course work that introduces basic aspects of molecular biology, cell biology, and stem cell biology, ten exceptional students will be selected as interns and will participate in the advanced tissue culture /stem cell techniques laboratory and in a human embryonic stem cell techniques course. Thereafter students will participate in research internships for ten months in laboratories at two host institutions.
Reviewers found this proposal to have a very nice balance of attention to non-science majors as well as to students who aim to have careers in biological sciences, particularly stem cell biology. They considered major strengths of the proposed program to be the integration of the internship program into the existing biotechnology certificate program (itself part of a comprehensive degree granting program) and the educational preparation of students for internships. New courses in stem cell biology and ethical considerations will be developed that will provide an orientation in these topics to all students in the biotechnology program, as well as providing a strong foundation for those students selected as interns. In addition to the new stem cell courses, existing courses in biotechnology, molecular biology and molecular genetics also contribute to a strong foundation for the internship experience. Student performance in this first year of coursework will be a basis for recruitment for the stem cell internships. Finally, an intense weeklong “finishing school” in stem cell biology methodology will ensure that the interns are very well prepared for the internship experience. Reviewers found the internship component of this proposal to be extremely well designed. Local advisers will help to place the students into appropriate internship laboratories, monitor the interns’ progress, and evaluate their performance. Reviewers noted that internship opportunities are available at 49 laboratories affiliated with two host institutions, providing a wide range of excellent and appropriate research experiences relating to stem cell biology. The reviewers considered the ten month duration of the internships to be of sufficient duration to provide adequate hands-on experience and to meet the training needs of the interns but would have preferred a full year internship. Students will be adequately mentored during the internship by meeting with the lab PI and with a faculty mentor at the home institution, and they will present their research findings at lab meetings and at local professional meetings. Overall, the reviewers believed that the well integrated nature of this program will add substantial value to the individual components.
Reviewers lauded this proposal for its very strong level of institutional commitment. The applicant institution has committed substantial resources, personnel, and facilities to the proposed Bridges program and there are adequate educational and research resources to train the students in biotechnology, cell biology, and related disciplines. The development of new educational offerings (Stem Cell Biology, Bioethics and Public Policy, and Advanced Tissue Culture/Stem Cell Techniques Laboratory), the available mentoring resources, and support for a Fiscal Coordinator for the program demonstrate the substantial commitment by the home institution to the Bridges program. Reviewers also lauded the well developed plans for partner institutions, including a local community college and two host institutions for laboratory internships. They noted that well qualified individuals at each partner institution have been identified and are effectively incorporated into the leadership, design, and monitoring of program activities. Reviewers further considered the availability of 49 laboratories as internship sites as demonstration of the host institutions’ commitment to the program as well.
The reviewers agreed that the Program Director (PD) was very well qualified to lead the efforts described in this proposal. The PD has considerable experience in research, education, mentoring and advising. She/he was founding director of the biotechnology program, has advised more than fifty BS and fifteen MS degree students, and has participated as a mentor in the MARC, Hughes, and Beckman Scholars programs. The reviewers noted that each partner institution has identified correspondingly well qualified individuals to serve in leadership roles for the proposal at their institution. Reviewers considered the advisory team to be appropriate. It includes representatives of each of the participating institutions. One reviewer thought the Advisory Committee would be strengthened by inclusion of individuals who are not directly associated with the program. The roles of the Advisory Committee are well described, and include guiding the planning and performance of the CIRM Bridges program, facilitating inter-institutional interactions, and publicizing the program. Reviewers favorably commented on the plan to recruit students to the program noting that the diverse student population of the applicant institution (>60% minority), the established MARC, RISE, Bridges to Baccalaureate programs, and the interactions with the local community college should yield a diverse student population. Reviewers noted that the institution has a good minority recruitment record in other programs. The reviewers expressed some concern about the assessment program and felt it warranted further development.
Overall, reviewers consider this to be a program worthy of funding given the integration into an existing certificate program, the strong preparation for internships, the well thought out internship program, the strength of the institutional commitment and the quality of the program director and program administration.