CIRM Bridges to Stem Cell Research Certificate Program
We are proposing a certificate program in stem cell biology research and regenerative medicine at our institution. Our objective is to train up to 30 students from diverse socioeconomic and ethnic background in the modern aspects of stem cell biology, it implications in regenerative medicine, and social and ethical issues in the use of stem cell technology. Specifically, the program will have two components. Students from our university will take the courses we offer in cellular and molecular biology. They will also complete at least one semester of independent research, which will enhance their training in experimental research design, basic methods, and good laboratory practices. The next phase of the program will require training in embryonic stem cell laboratory techniques at either [REDACTED] or [REDACTED], our “host” institutions. Up to ten undergraduates/year for three years will be selected to participate in a 12 month research internship at either [REDACTED] or at [REDACTED]. In preparation for these internships, trainees must show outstanding achievement in cellular and molecular biology coursework and aptitude in laboratory skills required to perform state of the art research techniques required in stem cell research. A general education course in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine will be developed and offered to nonscience majors at our campus and at our local community college. A seminar series featuring researchers in the field from each host institution will be offered to our students and to the local medical community We will offer a weekend workshop in stem cell biology and research to biology educators in our community. Our efforts will help create a diverse, highly qualified work force in stem cell biology and an educated public prepared to benefit from the research our trainees contribute to.
Human embryonic stem cell biology has become an important component of biotechnology research. Scientists have predicted stem cells could be used to treat a myriad of ailments, including diabetes, neurological disorders, and multiple kinds of cancers. California has demonstrated support for this research by passing Proposition 71 to fund the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). Because of CIRM, cutting edge stem cell research is taking place in California. This research requires highly competent technicians and researchers to perform the laboratory work. Our program is designed to provide California students from diverse socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds with comprehensive training in the modern aspects of stem cell biology, it implications in regenerative medicine, and social and ethical issues in the use of stem cell technology. Upon completion of coursework in genetics, cell biology, developmental biology, and stem cell laboratory methods, students will complete their training at at one of two "host" stem cell research centers: [REDACTED or at [REDACTED]. They will begin their training at these sites by taking a course in human embryonic stem cell research techniques. After completion of this course, they will participate in a 12 month research internship in a stem cell biology research laboratory. In addition to training students for careers in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, we will increase the awareness of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine in our community by offering general education courses for non-science majors, by providing seminars, workshops, and grand rounds to local educators and medical professionals, and by sending our students into local high school classrooms to talk with students about stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. Our efforts will help create a diverse, highly qualified work force in stem cell biology and an educated public prepared to benefit from the research our trainees contribute to.
The objective of the Humboldt State University CIRM Bridges training program is to provide motivated and talented undergraduate students who are interested in stem cell and regenerative medicine with an opportunity to receive one year of independent research training in a CIRM supported research laboratory at UC Davis, UCSF or Stanford University. A committee of Biology faculty members selects students through an application and interview process. The selected students are fully supported by the CIRM Bridges grant during their training period. The effectiveness of the program is evident from the success of the students who have completed the training. 91.5% of the students who have completed the training in the past four years have been either employed (58%), accepted to Ph.D. programs (21%) or professional programs (12.5%). We attribute this level of success to the way the Bridges program was designed by CIRM and the quality of the students selected to the program. We expect to maintain this level of success in the ensuing years of the project. In 2012-13 academic year, we placed seven CIRM Bridges trainees in different labs at Stanford (4), UCSF (1) and UC Davis (2). Of the seven, two of them have been accepted to Ph.D. programs in Stem Cell/ Regenerative Medicine fields, one is in the process of applying to MD/Ph.D. programs and three of them have been offered research technical positions. The remaining one student will be taking courses to complete her undergraduate degree.
The Humboldt State University CIRM Bridges program is designed to provide opportunities for HSU students in education and training in stem cell and regenerative medicine fields. In addition, the program also supports activities to educate non-science majors, the general public and those in the local medical community as to recent advances in regenerative medicine and its potential to cure a variety of human ailments, specifically neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
The CIRM Bridges program also allowed the HSU Biology department to establish a very rigorous and successful stem cell training program on campus. This has benefited a large number of students and has generated a tremendous interest in the field.
Over the past five years, the CIRM program at HSU has facilitated the stem cell/regenerative medicine training of 39 students in one of the three major research institutions, UC Davis, UCSF or Stanford University. Of these 39 students, 11 were accepted to Ph.D. programs in the stem cell field. Four were accepted to professional programs in medicine. In addition, 3 were selected to MS programs in stem cell/regenerative medicine fields. 19/39 (49%) are employed in a research laboratory or in the biotechnology industry in California. 95% of our 39 students met the objective of the program- each has been employed in the biotech industry/ research labs or has been accepted to higher education in the stem cell/ regenerative medicine field. We attribute the success of the program to the quality of students and the effective design of the program by the CIRM administration.
Over the past six years the Humboldt State University CIRM Bridges training program has trained 49 undergraduate students in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. Of the 49 students, 17 have been accepted to graduate programs, four to MD or MD/Ph.D. programs, 22 are gainfully employed in Stem Cell Biology fields and one trainee has entered the teaching profession. We attribute this high rate of success (92%) of our program to the quality of our students and the CIRM training program at the host institutions. The rigorous selection criteria that we use and the initial training that these students receive at Humboldt State University have contributed to this success. Humboldt State University is located in rural Northern California, 200-300 miles away from any class-I research institution. Therefore, students selected to participate in the CIRM training program spend 12 months away at institutions that host our students. This has allowed them to be completely immersed in research and emerge at the end of their training period with tools and scientific sophistication to enter graduate/professional programs or join the stem cell biology/regenerative medicine industry.
In the 2014- 2015 training period, of the nine students who were selected to participate in the program, one has already been accepted to a Ph.D. program. Five have been offered a position in the same laboratory where they received their initial training. The remaining three are taking a year off to prepare to apply to graduate/professional programs. Based on the record of trainees from previous years, there is a very good chance that all of these students will be either accepted to graduate/professional programs or find gainful employment in stem cell related fields. Based on our record, it possible for us to state that the CIRM Bridges Training Program has achieved its goals and is probably one of the best designed training programs of its kind when compared to many of the federally or privately funded undergraduate training programs.