Our institution's long-standing Research Mentorship Program is a hands-on program for highly motivated high school students interested in participating in academic research in a variety of disciplines. During their six intensive weeks on campus, participants learn to analyze papers and write their own, evaluate research presentations and present their own research in a culminating symposium, and engage in aspects of on-going research with [REDACTED] faculty or one of their research team members as a mentor. Depending on the nature of the project, lab hours may range from 30 to 40 hours a week. In summer 2011, CIRM funded a pilot program in stem cell research within our Research Mentorship Program and we would like to increase the number of CIRM students from 6 to 10 and invite more researchers from our 30 research faculty who work in our Stem Cell Research Center to mentor these interested students. The future of stem cell research in the state depends on successful recruitment of top people at all levels. Active populations of aware and highly knowledgeable pre-exposed bright thinkers can predictably lead to a blossom of a generation of workers and leaders who can be ready to push forward the frontiers of stem cell research. By immersing capable young people in this rewarding experience, we believe we are helping to develop the next generation of stem cell researchers.
Stem cell research is at the core of multiple fields in cell biology including cell division, regeneration, and differentiation. In addition to the vast expectations that the field harbors for regenerative medicine of many types, an active workforce well educated and enthused about stem cell research will no doubt lead to new developments and understanding of the life of a cell, any embryonic cell, and any reversible stages. Uncontrolled cancer proliferation, well controlled embryonic development, and all living cell functions involved will benefit from progress in this research.
Reviewers agreed that this is a well-conceived proposal with appropriate scope and activities for training high school interns and introducing them to careers in stem cell research. Significant strengths of this program include the institution's well-established history and successful track record, ample available research opportunities, and program director’s experience and direct involvement with the program. Reviewers expressed some concerns that the proposal did not sufficiently describe outreach efforts for recruiting underrepresented students and gave minimal attention to the second discipline, two issues that reduced the reviewers’ enthusiasm.
Overall, reviewers were very supportive of this application. They particularly appreciated the strength of the established summer research program and the quality and value of specific program activities.
- A motion was made to recommend this application for funding. The motion carried.