COMPASS: an inclusive Pipeline for Research and Other Stem cell-based Professions in Regenerative medicine (iPROSPR)

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COMPASS: an inclusive Pipeline for Research and Other Stem cell-based Professions in Regenerative medicine (iPROSPR)

Statement of Benefit to California:
CIRM’s role in advancing stem cell biology has generated scores of opportunities for biotech innovation in California. The state has become a world leader in regenerative medicine, spawning new companies and creating well-paid jobs that require highly qualified Californians to fill them. The raditional biology curriculum does not provide the broad perspectives or sufficient hands-on experiences to prepare undergraduates for entry-level positions in biotech companies run by experienced researchers with Ph.Ds. This COMPASS program will fill the gaps between what an undergraduate student knows and what the biotech companies seek in their new hires. Over the next five years, we will select 28 undergraduate students who are first in their families to go to college and/or Pell Grant-eligible for our COMPASS program (75% will be dual identity). Students will be trained in cell, molecular, and stem cell biology techniques in order to be exceptional interns in the labs of world leaders at our partnering host institutions. Students will also participate in patient engagement and community outreach activities to instill purposeful goals in their selection of career paths. The four program leadership team members will also guide students into thinking creatively about their career paths through mentoring and a customized capstone project. Beyond the 28 COMPASS scholars, we will reach thousands of underrepresented students through inspirational and educational recruitment events. Historically, over 70% of students from this campus remain in California, which means much of the workforce talent will be retained locally. Having qualified employees will increase innovation and productivity in California’s stem cell-based companies. In time, this will likely lead to the translation of discoveries into new therapeutics and diagnostics, benefiting Californians as well as people around the world. Successful stem cell-based companies, staffed by highly qualified scientists and technicians, will also contribute significant tax revenue to the state and enrich California’s economy. Moreover, selecting diverse students interested in regenerative medicine will allow underrepresented populations to find employment in one of the fastest-growing sectors of our economy. Their participation is one approach by which communities that have been excluded from high-tech jobs may engage in the future of medicine. This is of enormous benefit to our state because these researchers will be able to bring diverse thoughts, perspectives, and problem-solving skills to the rapidly growing stem cell research enterprise and share knowledge about regenerative medicine with their (sometimes wary) communities. Our community outreach approaches will also engage elementary, middle, and high school students with college students and members of the community to learn about advances in stem cell biology, which will help develop an informed citizenry within California.