During the reporting period, we have contributed and strengthened the future of stem cell research in California in several ways. The most immediate and direct impact has been in the students that were trained as Bridges interns. There were 10 students that were specifically trained in stem cell research and worked closely with the most talented and productive stem cell researchers in our region. These students come from diverse backgrounds, including ethnic representation, age and genders. These students are the future of stem cell research as they continue in their laboratories, complete their academic degrees or move onto advanced education. For example, we have students from the previous reporting period that are graduating with their undergraduate and graduate degrees and moving onto Ph.D. programs. These successes would not have been possible without the Bridges to Stem Cell Research training.
As part of our focus on training students in stem cell research and recruiting a diverse pool of applicants into the program, we performed several activities. We also held a stem cell retreat in June 2017 for incoming and outgoing Bridges interns. The outgoing Bridges interns showcased their research to the campus. We moreover had a workshop in November 2016 to prepare the next set of students that were preparing their applications to the program, so they can understand the requirements and goals of the program. Further, we held an intern:mentor mixer function in April 2017 at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute jointly with San Diego State University to acquaint cohort 9 interns with available mentors and the research conducted in their laboratories. The mixer was part of our ongoing colloquium held with San Diego State Bridges program, where in the interns showcased their research publicly to both sets of interns in the program; their mentors; and the public at different venues to bring community awareness. These different forums ensure that we train, recruit and support the science students and Bridges interns to successfully accomplish stem cell research.
As part of our goals to educate non-scientists in stem cell research in California, we have impacted hundreds of CSUSM students through a non-majors course called Trends in 21st Century Medicine. This course has a large stem cell component and is offered both semesters. Further, the Program Director and former interns have reached out to numerous high schools on Stem Cell Awareness day to speak to students in order to educate and reach a broader audience in California. Our interns also participated in the STEM in your Backyard and Super STEM Saturday, where they were educated the public about the importance of stem cell research.