Begun in 2006, City College of San Francisco’s Stem Cell Technology Certificate Program was one of the first ever programs to specifically provide training in the field of stem cell biology. The goal of our program is to reach out to a diverse population of students and impart the knowledge, skills, and motivation for a rewarding career in stem cell research or related fields (such as medical/clinical laboratories involved with stem cell therapies). One of the key components to a successful program such as this is the internship component which would not be possible without CIRM. Once a student completes our program, they have the opportunity to work full time as an intern in a local host research laboratory.
Our Stem Cell Technology Certificate program can be completed in 2 semesters. The focus of the coursework is hands-on skills and all of the courses are taught in the laboratory. Students will become familiar with many of the techniques used in research. We bring in guest instructors; scientists from both UCSF and Gladstone Institutes to ensure that the students are being taught about the most current and exciting work in the field. After they complete their coursework, they receive a certificate and are eligible to apply for an internship.
During this reporting period, our second cohort of 8 students (8th cohort historically) completed their scientific coursework and worked with Americans For Cures, a patient advocacy group, to relate the science they are doing in the lab to the real life patients whose lives they are changing. The students also developed short presentations for local high school and middle school students, as well as helping out with science fairs and promoting science at community events. After the core studies were completed, students completed research internships in host laboratories around the Bay Area while taking additional courses to support development of relevant skills such as giving oral research presentations and journal clubs, reading scientific papers, analyzing data, troubleshooting and documentation. At the end of the internship, students presented their research at both a CCSF and a CIRM scientific conference.
In the past, our interns contributed to the basic research of stem cells. Currently they have moved forward with translational projects, with their discoveries leading to the clinic and new possible therapies. Our interns acting as relatable ambassadors for stem cell research has helped people in the community understand the science a little better, learn more about exciting breakthroughs that are in the horizon, and give hope to many for a cure.
While their contributions may have been small, introducing students to the rewarding field of stem cell biology research will have a lasting impact. Most of our students who complete this program do continue on to have careers related to this field. Training and motivating these students will lead to a brighter future for us all.