Year 4

The State of California has made a commitment to support stem cell research and to advance work that will lead to diagnostics, therapies, and cures for human injury and disease. In the past year, the UCSC Training Program in Systems Biology of Stem Cells has assisted the State in reaching this goal by training 4 graduate students and 6 postdoctoral researchers in areas of basic stem cell research. Basic (or discovery) research uncovers the molecular and cellular details that instruct stem cells to remain as stem cells or to differentiate into the myriad types of cells of the human body. Knowledge of how stem cells function at this level is critical to utilizing them for devising medical breakthroughs. While in this program, trainees not only gain an education, they make important contributions to the research project they have mapped out with their mentor, which leads to publication and furthering the knowledge needed for stem cell medicine to succeed. During the 2012-13 training period, our trainees received several prestigious awards for their stem cell research: the Eugene Cronkite Award for the best postdoctoral abstract and oral presentation at the meeting for the International Society for Experimental Hematology was a highlight. The majority of our newly trained stem cell scientists have opted to stay in California to build their own careers: of those that pursue further training, 91% remain in California, of those that continue with academic teaching, research, or medical careers, 77% take a position in California and of those that work in the Biotech industry, 100% remain in California. Of the two predoctoral trainees and three postdoctoral trainees that completed their training in 2012-13, four have continued with stem cell based research academic appointments in California and one has been selected to train as a Science Policy Fellow at The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology to gain skills to advocate for basic scientific research, increase scientific communication to the general public and analyze science based policy. Funds for the training program have greatly enhanced the research and training environment at University of California, Santa Cruz. The work of CIRM funded scholars have leveraged hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional grant funding and research gifts. They have helped attract internationally acclaimed faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students to almost double the program size. The research discoveries of the cohort are being published in internationally recognized peer reviewed journals and provided the impetus for the 2013 CIRM funded UCSC Stem Cell and Aging Symposium.