Research Mentorship Program in Regenerative Medicine Careers for a Diverse Undergraduate Student Body

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Research Mentorship Program in Regenerative Medicine Careers for a Diverse Undergraduate Student Body

Statement of Benefit to California:
Our experience with first-generation and under-served students across multiple CIRM Bridges programs documents that these students progress to successful careers in regenerative medicine and that the vast majority of Bridges Interns remain in the state of California. So too, we believe our COMPASS Scholar’s Program will prepare a diverse cadre of undergraduates for careers in regenerative medicine, targeting untapped talent within populations that are historically under-represented in the biomedical sciences. By teaching general research, networking, and communication skills to at risk undergraduates, and combining these skills with hands-on training in stem cell biology and public outreach, we will be supplying California with a well-trained workforce of COMPASS Scholars ready for successful careers in public health and regenerative medicine. Our program will give Scholars the opportunity to explore a variety of ways in which their research skills can be applied towards improving human health through career paths in both the public and private sectors. A parallel objective is to foster greater awareness and appreciation of diversity, equity and inclusion in trainees, mentors, and other program participants. There are shortages of individuals skilled in stem cell manufacture and good manufacturing procedures; there are shortages of Clinical Research Coordinators who help establish clinical trials and enroll/track patients in those trials. The more diverse these individuals are, the better they will connect with a diverse patient population and bring a wider range of patients into the clinical trial pipeline. The COMPASS Program will produce a cadre of well-trained individuals who are ready to contribute to the workforce. Further, there is a graduation “gap” between first generation and under-served undergraduates and their second generation or more socioeconomically stable peers. The UC accountability office calculated that this graduation rate gap means that students graduating in four years as opposed to six will have $100,000 to $150,000 reduced educational expenses and additional wages. We expect that the vast majority of our COMPASS Scholars will graduate in four years, saving themselves and their families via reduced college costs and loans, and putting tax dollars back into California’s economy as they begin careers in high paying jobs. If we reduce the excess time to graduate in half (~$62,5000) for our 25 Scholars, this would return a benefit of $1,562,500 to the State of California over the course of this grant.