This proposal is designed to recruit and train 5 undergraduate and 5 master’s degree students per year in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. Through partnerships with local community colleges, newly designed and dedicated courses at the home campus and internships at two established, CIRM-funded centers of stem cell research, this program will create a unique (and perhaps the only) opportunity for providing such training in an area that covers 20% of the state of California. Graduates will be mentored, evaluated and tracked by a Stem Cell Internship Advisory Committee, and are expected to: 1 Seek entry level employment in the public or private sector engaged in stem cell and related therapy development and research. 2 Enter a PhD program to pursue a career in stem cell research. 3 Contribute as K-12 science teachers throughout California and promote a well-grounded understanding of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. The program will achieve these goals by first engaging the local community colleges in our service area to help identify individuals with diverse backgrounds interested in pursuing training in stem cell laboratory techniques. In partnership with these local community colleges, we will extend stem cell training to undergraduates in an area covering a fifth of the state. Courses will be developed to stimulate broad student interest and strengthen education in stem cell and related issues. Within the Department of Biological Sciences at [REDACTED], courses will be developed for a new Option in Cell and Molecular Biology. This option covers the core curriculum for cell and molecular biology and basic laboratory experience necessary to prepare our undergraduate majors for a year-long internship at one of our 2 host partners. The graduate component will begin with accelerated and focused recruitment of qualified graduate students interested in stem cell biology. Both undergraduates and graduates selected for this program will begin the internship phase with a week-long course in human embryonic stem cell techniques taught at the [REDACTED], one of our host partners. Each intern will undergo 12 months of full-time training in a stem cell laboratory at the [REDACTED] or [REDACTED], our second host partner. Other elements in the program include a distinguished speaker seminar series in stem cell biology; supplementary training in cell culture methods and image analysis, and attendance at local, state, and national meetings in cell biology. These meetings will allow trainees to present their data and make contacts essential for the next phase of their careers. Mentoring and evaluation of interns will be administered by a Stem Cell Internship Advisory Committee composed of faculty in Cell and Molecular Biology and a member from each partnering institution. A key function of the advisory committee will be job placement and tracking of trainees to evaluate the program’s long-term success.
The Bridges program described here benefits the state of California and its citizens by training skilled stem cell technicians for an emerging “for profit” biotechnology sector; adding to the number of early career independent academic investigators interested in pursuing research in stem cell biology; strengthening cellular and molecular biology programs for majors, graduate students and the non-major student population. This bridges program in stem cell biology is embedded with all these benefits and compounds them by providing stem biology training to a large, under-served, area of California. The [REDACTED] constitutes almost 20% of the states landed area. It is a sparsely populated agricultural region containing two large communities, and several smaller population centers totaling just under a million people. The nearest University of California campus is 100 miles way. The essential role of the community colleges and the [REDACTED] serving this area can not be overstated. These diverse and effective institutions provide virtually all of the post secondary education in this region. They also provide most of the work force training and are the major conduit to postgraduate programs in California’s professional schools and prestigious research institutions.