The call for fellowship applications began June 4, 2013. Seven pre-doctoral students, six postdoctoral scholars, and six clinical fellows were appointed. Five of seven pre-doctoral fellows, four of six postdocs and one of six clinical fellows were newly appointed. The appointment of a new cohort is important because creating new opportunities in each year keeps steady interest among applicants and faculty. The number and quality of pre and postdoctoral applicants is very high, with many MD PhD candidates in the predoctoral pool and many published authors in the postdoc pool. There is wide diversity in the scientific fields represented. The improved pool makes competition for appointments tough. The rigorous educational elements of the program, especially the multi-institutional team-taught Core Course and the hands-on Laboratory Methods course taught in the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Core Facility (HESCCF) have attracted positive notice from faculty, postdocs, and students, and inquiries about future calls for nominations are frequent. Many applicants are applying after having taken the Stem Cell Core Course as graduate students, and many have previous experience with cell culture of hESC or human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC).
UCSD CIRM fellows actively participate in a program of special lab courses, didactic courses, research seminars, and journal clubs to present findings, build relationships, hone professionalism, and develop interdisciplinary contacts. The 2012-2013 trainees participated in the core course, building their own scholarly interactions. Continuing an annual event begun in 2008, a multi-institutional retreat was held November, 2012, in the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine (a CIRM Major Facility) to jump start the scholarly interaction among the UCSD trainees and their Consortium colleagues at the Salk, Sanford-Burnham, and Scripps institutions. CIRM UCSD trainees also participated in The CIRM Grantee Meeting held March 6-8, 2013, Stem Cell Meeting on the Mesa VII was held October 31, 2012 during which trainees presented their research. The meeting, as all our training events, integrated topics of ethics, social impact, translational medicine, and interaction with industry.
To date, the University of California San Diego CIRM Stem Cell Research & Training grant has provided fellowships to 68 UCSD fellows in 42 different labs in 14 different departments in Engineering, Medicine, and Biological Sciences. Graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and physicians all have received research support, ethics training, and education in stem cell science and regenerative medicine, creating at UCSD, and throughout the world, an innovative, rigorously trained community of stem cell scholars, doctors, and innovators.
From Pediatricians to neuroscientists, bioengineers to bioinformatics specialists, the Californians trained in the CIRM UCSD have made significant contributions to our knowledge and our health. Eighteen of our former trainees are practicing physicians, with specialties including maternal/fetal health, heart failure, pediatrics, and oncology. They bring advanced knowledge of stem cell science and ethics to their clinical practices. Some work has helped attract significant federal funding.Some of our early career researchers have attracted private funding to support their work on very difficult and meaningful problems, such as dissecting the role of individual genetic background in sporadic Alzheimer’s disease or understanding the role of certain nerve cells in Rett’s Syndrome, an autistic Spectrum disorder. Many trainees remain in Southern California, researching, practicing medicine or contributing at innovative local companies.