Stem Cell Scholars: a workforce development pipeline, educating, training and engaging students from basic research to clinical translation.

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Stem Cell Scholars: a workforce development pipeline, educating, training and engaging students from basic research to clinical translation.

Public Abstract:
The Stem Cell Scholars training program has the following three robust components to ensure its success and provide great benefit both to the students/interns and the communities that our campus serve.

1 Courses to prepare the students for research internship.
Students will be trained in all aspects of stem cell biology and therapy applications. Courses on stem cell biology and hESC technologies will ensure that that the students have the skill set to be successful and receive maximum benefit from their subsequent internship. They will also benefit from coursework that will familiarize them with the regulatory affairs process and give them an understanding of how basic research translates into a clinical trial and ultimately to a well-accepted therapeutic protocol. A tissue engineering course and a bioprocessing summer boot camp will further strengthen their knowledge base and make them even more competitive in the workplace.
2. Volunteer opportunities to ensure students engage with the community.
Students will engage with patient groups and organize educational seminars to interested members of the community. Students will volunteer at local hospitals or on campus to organize healthcare related events. The Student Society for Stem Cell Research will provide our students with an avenue to organize and share experiences with each other and the local community. The society offers several events that have both educational and engagement aspects for our own student population and the local middle and high schools. Students will perform community outreach by giving lectures at local schools and participate in Stem Cell Symposia and seminars organized locally by the Inland Empire Stem Cell Consortium.
3. Provide mentoring and career advice.
Both the PI and host labs will take a meaningful role in the mentorship of our student interns. Included are year-long career mentoring, writing, and data science management workshops along with networking activities that will enable our interns to procure meaningful and satisfying careers in the stem cell research and therapy sectors.

Over the 5-year period of the grant, we will train 35 undergraduate and 15 graduate students at host sites with whom we have established strong and highly collaborative relationships. Our highly diverse and talented student population means that our program promises to not only provide appropriately qualified graduates in the relevant disciplines but to provide diversity in these graduates as well. Our goal is to prepare these students to enter the workforce that has been created as a result of CIRM funding. Work possibilities include research technician positions, regulatory affairs professionals, or going on to advanced educational programs such as medical or graduate schools and ultimately serving in translational medicine clinics.
Statement of Benefit to California:
This renewal proposal aims to recruit, identify, educate, and train a diverse group of 50 undergraduate and graduate students in stem cell research and therapy while providing them with avenues for community outreach and volunteerism. The passage of Proposition 14 in 2020 has allowed continuation of the very successful Bridges program with some important added components. In 2021, CIRM's programmatic needs have shifted to training a diverse group of undergraduate level and masters level students not only in technical skills but also engaging these students to become stakeholders by carrying out significant community and patient outreach efforts and understanding the regulatory hurdles and issues that challenge the transition from discovery to therapy. Because of our strong and diverse base of underrepresented students in STEM, our Bridges Scholars Internship program promises not only to provide appropriate trained and qualified graduates but to give them opportunities to contribute to their local community both by educating K-12 students and volunteering in a variety of settings in the healthcare sector. Our program will have the following components: 1. An effective pipeline of courses that will enrich the education of the pool of students, along with recruitment, mentoring, and career advising. 2. Educating and training the interns in basic tissue culture and advanced human embryonic cell culture techniques, stem cell biology theory, tissue engineering and bioprocessing courses, basic concepts in regulatory affairs, and how human embryonic cells can end up providing a therapy for a diverse group of patients with as yet unmet medical needs. Emphasis will also be put on educational platforms that highlight the present profound disparities in healthcare delivery, especially when it comes to specialized therapies. 3. Patient and healthcare engagement by volunteering in support groups, providing community education and other avenues which are presently constrained because of COVID. 4. The Student Society for Stem Cell Research will spearhead educational outreach components that will include local campus seminars, regional Stem Cell Symposia, delivering lectures at local middle and high schools and attending regional conferences that are patient centric. 5. Over the five-year period of the grant, we will train 35 undergraduate and 15 masters level students. Our distinct goal is to prepare these students to be able to enter the workforce and contribute their expertise and training in a variety of healthcare delivery settings, from carrying out research in a lab, having careers in regulatory affairs or clinical studies, to being a stem cell therapy physician. We see ourselves as part of the mission of improving the health and quality of life for the millions of people for whom no therapies are currently available for their chronic diseases or injuries.