Student Pluripotency: Realizing Untapped Undergraduate Potential in Regenerative Medicine

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Student Pluripotency: Realizing Untapped Undergraduate Potential in Regenerative Medicine

Statement of Benefit to California:
This program aims to identify, engage, recruit, educate, mentor, and comprehensively train a diverse group of 32 undergraduate students with the goal to develop scientific research affinity and readiness join career tracks in biotechnology, gene therapy, and regenerative medicine. Concurrently with the above planned activities, the training program will provide students with a variety of community outreach and volunteer opportunities, including patient engagement. Because of our strong and diverse base of underrepresented students in STEM, our COMPASS program will provide appropriately trained and highly qualified graduates that also contribute to the ongoing goal of diversifying California’s regenerative medicine workforce. Our program will have the following components: 1. Early identification of potential awardees by an innovative use of CURES for recruitment. 2. Laboratory research internships, starting with projects mentored by our faculty to build foundational skillsets and project experience, followed by off-campus internships in regenerative medicine-focused labs at partner institutions. 3. An effective pipeline of courses and sustained mentorship that will enrich the education of the pool of students, along with scientific skills development, career advising and professional networking. 4. Courses that will be completed by the awardees will allow them to earn a certificate in biotechnology (an already existing program). Highlighted courses include stem cell biology, developmental biology, animal tissue culture, genomics and bioethics. A number of workshops offered will include health disparities, bioprocessing, entrepreneurship. 5. Patient and healthcare engagement by volunteering in support groups, non-profits, providing community education and become aware of the challenges that are particularly pervasive in their local community. 6. Educational outreach components that will include local campus seminars, regional Stem Cell Symposia, delivering lectures at local middle and high schools, attending regional conferences that are patient centric, and events organized through the Student Society for Stem Cell Research. COMPASS trainees will also host and contribute to ‘stem cell bootcamp’ workshops for local high school students. 7. Over the five-year period of the grant, we will train 32 undergraduate students. Our distinct goal is to prepare these students to be able to enter the workforce and contribute their perspective, expertise, and training in a variety of health research and healthcare delivery settings, from carrying out disease and therapeutic research in a lab, having careers in regulatory affairs or clinical studies, to being a stem cell or gene therapy physician. We see ourselves and our students 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.