Our program’s primary objective is to train and prepare pre- and post-doctoral fellows to become excellent scientists and leaders in stem cell research that are able to integrate multiple approaches from different disciplines in this emerging field. A secondary goal is to recruit and educate a diverse work force in stem cell biology to ensure that under-represented minorities and women in California will participate fully in this segment of the biomedical enterprise. We are the largest academic and research institution serving the state’s [REDACTED]; as a designated a Hispanic Serving Institution, we have an excellent record of recruiting, training and graduating minority students and women. Our new medical school begins faculty recruitment in 2009; as the first new medical school in the nation in this century, we plan to integrate stem cell biology into the medical school curriculum. This Level II application requests funding for 6 pre-doctoral and 4 post-doctoral CIRM Scholars per year. Our program consists of intramural coursework and activities enriched by extramural partnerships with neighboring academic and biotech institutions. Training begins with three graduate core courses, required of all CIRM Scholars, in Stem Cell Biology and Disease, Stem Cell Biology-Technology and Applications, and Bioethics of Stem Cell Biology. Scholars can select other courses including a wet-lab in Human Embryonic Stem Cell Culture (also open to CIRM Bridges students), taught in our newly constructed, CIRM-funded Shared Stem Cell Core Facility, a course in Advanced Topics in Stem Cell Biology, and an upper division course in Human Embryology. CIRM Scholars will participate in joint lab meetings with members from all of our stem cell labs and in seminars given by invited speakers from other institutions. A special feature of our program is that it is designed to foster a high degree of interaction among life scientists and engineers. Faculty from the life sciences, chemistry and engineering will be teaching the required course in Stem Cell Biology-Technology and Applications. CIRM Scholars will have the opportunity to be embedded in both life science and engineering labs, training them at an early stage for future interdisciplinary collaborations. Thus, CIRM Scholars will be able to conduct research on a range of stem cell projects including basic studies on signal transduction, differentiation, regeneration and disease to problems in translation including bulk production of cells, biosensors, and monitoring of environmental toxicants. Our program is enhanced by extramural opportunities including 3 month-long internships at local biotech companies and presentations at national and international stem cell meetings. With participating faculty from 12 graduate programs in four colleges at our institution, we have formed a well-integrated, interdisciplinary group of stem cell researchers, many of whom have won awards for outstanding research and teaching.
The passage of Proposition 71 by the citizens of California clearly demonstrated the importance of stem cell research to our state. In order to develop stem cell-based therapies, it is essential to train a new workforce of scientists to address basic and translational questions regarding stem cell biology. Our proposed training program will benefit the people and the state of California by providing high-quality scientific and ethical training in stem-cell research to PhD graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who upon completing our program as CIRM Scholars will be well prepared to develop careers in this rapidly emerging field. Our CIRM Scholars will be trained in an integrated program that bridges the life sciences and engineering and will be especially well suited to participate in interdisciplinary projects and contribute to the leadership and workforce in the field of stem cell biology and its translation to stem cell-based therapies. Because CIRM Scholars in our program will be exposed to basic science, technology, and applications of stem cell biology, our trainees will be highly qualified to address basic research questions and transform such information into clinical applications that will aid in the treatment of disease. Training in our program will prepare CIRM Scholars to fill diverse positions in academia, industry and government in the state of California. Our university, which is located in one of the most ethnically diverse and fastest growing regions of California, has a history of making strong contributions to our local citizens by training under represented minorities and women. One goal of our CIRM training program is to continue this tradition, and through courses, research, and enrichment activities, we will be able to open career opportunities for minorities and women in this important emerging area of the biomedical enterprise. Our program also offers outreach activities to other campuses, biotech companies, and local community groups that will provide additional value to the citizens at all levels in our area. In addition, by interfacing our program with our new medical school that will begin recruiting faculty in 2009, we will be in a position to bring unique enrichment and training opportunities to our CIRM Scholars and facilitate development of projects dealing with stem cell-based therapies a within the newest medical school in California.