The primary goals of the CPP/CSULA Stem Cell Bridges Training Program have been: 1) to provide comprehensive training and full-time research internships for qualified students; and 2) to give other students a basic understanding of stem cell research through development of appropriate General Education curriculum.. Since the initiation of the grant (summer 2009), we have generated very strong student and faculty interest in the program by keeping the campus communities regularly informed about our program activities via our website, mass emails to the campus communities, informational meetings and development of stem cell curriculum. To date, 26 students have completed their stem cell research internships at City of Hope, California Institute of Technology, Scripps Research Institute, University of Southern California and Western University of Health Sciences in laboratories supported by CIRM funding. These internships have been invaluable in helping the students in their future career paths. Five students have been hired as research assistants in the same CIRM stem cell labs in which they had done their stem cell internships (City of Hope, USC, Scripps and Cal Tech). Another intern is working at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in stem cell research and another intern has been working as the Laboratory and Training Coordinator for the USC Stem Cell CORE Facility in which this student had done a stem cell internship. Five students are completing their Master’s degrees with a thesis focus on stem cell research. One student has completed a Master’s degree in stem cell research and is working as a Junior Chemist at Metropolitan Water District. Another student who completed a Master’s degree in stem cell research is now working at California Stem Cell Inc. (Irvine, California) in the manufacturing division. One undergraduate student is completing her Bachelor’s Project on stem cell research and is planning on applying to PhD programs. Four interns have been accepted to PhD Programs and will begin their studies in the Fall of 2013. A former intern is now in Medical school and another will start Medical School in Fall of 2013 while a third intern is in Dental School. Success of the CIRM Program for these students is evident in their personal statements, examples of which are as follows:
“I will be forever grateful for the opportunity each of you have allowed me. ”
“I believe my acceptance to medical school was greatly in part due to my involvement with CIRM. It proved to the admissions committee that I was a dedicated and passionate person and ultimately made a lasting impression on them. I’m very fortunate and grateful for the opportunity granted to me by Cal Poly Pomona and CIRM.”
“I really appreciate that CIRM gave me this wonderful opportunity.”
“Neither of these degrees (MS and PhD) are ones that I would have considered had it not been for my experience with the CIRM Bridges Program, which exposed me to research”
” I am glad that CIRM gave me the opportunity and connection to continue my career with stem cells.”
The impact of the CIRM Program has extended beyond the student interns to the faculty, staff and students at CPP and CSULA through the 1) campus wide seminar programs (6 per year) 2) the development of 3 upper division stem cell classes which enrolled approximately 95 students for which critical supplies were provided by CPP/CSULA CIRM funding, 3) development of a general education video module explaining the basics of stem cell research and 4) in the creation of an artistic collaboration between the PI and the dance professor at CPP which resulted in the dance entitled, “Exploring Stem Cells Through Dance”. This dance premiered at the statewide CSUPERB Student/Faculty 25th Annual Biotechnology Research Symposium, and has been digitally recorded and edited to be viewed by the general public on our CIRM Program website. It is clear that the whole Cal Poly Pomona/CSULA program has had a profound effect on the lives of the students and faculty at both campuses and will continue to do so in the future as the students progress in their careers and the faculty continue to incorporate stem cell curriculum into the courses that they teach.