The Gladstone-CIRM Scholars Training Program is a highly successful Type II (Intermediate training) program that is currently funded for postdoctoral and clinical scholars. The Gladstone conducts basic research on three of the most important medical problems of modern times: cardiovascular disease, AIDS, and neurodegenerative disorders. Each of these research areas addresses promising targets for regenerative medicine. The Gladstone is located in a new 200,000 sq. ft. facility, including CIRM-funded laboratory space constructed without federal funding. Its location—adjacent to the UCSF Mission Bay campus—provides an ideal environment for collaboration between scientists at the host institution, neighboring UC laboratories, and other research institutions. Gladstone is an independent research institute affiliated with UC, and we combine some of our educational activities with the robust training programs in stem cell biology at the UC campus, thus facilitating synergy and eliminating duplication. Gladstone offers a unique training for CIRM scholars, providing a commitment to educating the next generation of biomedical scientists, highly interactive research groups, and substantial individual feedback from experienced mentors. Over half of the 28 laboratories at Gladstone are engaged in some aspect of stem cell research. The host institution is one of the top ranked recipients of CIRM funding and the CIRM scholars program is the centerpiece of all our stem cell research efforts. More than 350 fellows have trained at Gladstone. In a national survey of more than 100 universities and research institutions conducted by The Scientist, Gladstone has ranked in the top 15 of the best places to work for postdoctoral fellows for the past 8 years—with a #2 ranking for 2012. In 2006 and 2008, Gladstone ranked #1. In 2010, Gladstone received the “Distinguished Service Award” from the National Postdoctoral Association in honor of its postdoctoral program.
A major goal of regenerative medicine is to repair damaged tissue. Our CIRM scholars have research programs that focus on developing new methods to differentiate human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells into specific cell types for regeneration of diseased tissues. Our program could benefit the California economy by training highly skilled scientists who will take leading positions in California’s research institutions and the biotechnology industry. These scientists will also create technology that will be the basis of creating jobs in the biomedical industry. For instance, new stem cell lines could be valuable for biotechnology companies and researchers who are screening for drug compounds for regenerative medicine. Furthermore, our CIRM scholars are working closely with California companies to develop new equipment and analysis software that could be the basis for new product lines or new businesses. As new regenerative therapies come to fruition, we anticipate that California medical centers will be leading the way.
Ultimately, the most important contribution of our CIRM scholars may be to improve the health of Californians. Diseases that are the target of regenerative medicine are major causes of mortality and morbidity, resulting in billions of dollars in healthcare costs and lost days at work. As we continue our efforts in medical research, we hope to one day unlock the secrets of tissue development and repair. This knowledge will help medical researchers develop beneficial therapies beyond what is currently available and potentially improve the quality of life and life expectancy of patients who suffer from disease.