Year 4

The CIRM Creativity Program, implemented at the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures has one overarching goal: To educate California’s future stem cell scientists. It has been designed as a novel internship experience for high school students and allows for the interns to work side by side with noted scientists in cutting edge stem cell research facilities; it is truly motivating and highly stimulating for young people. Based on our previous four successful summer internship programs, 10 talented students from Northern CA high schools were again selected from the winners of the UC Davis Biotech Challenge Program. The students had to create a website featuring and discussing cutting edge science in the biomedical field, and present their work during a meeting at the UC Davis campus. The 10 winners were then paired up with individual scientist mentors from the UC Davis Stem Cell Program (we have a multitude of laboratories the students could work in) to take up projects involving the development of cutting edge stem cell treatments for diseases that affect the brain, liver, heart, skin, eye, the immune system and others. The summer internship was structured so the students could complete a research project within the allowed timeframe and then generate a poster for a CIRM poster day held in San Francisco in August of 2015. In order for our interns to receive formal training in stem cell biology, they also participated in a class called “Stem Cell Biology and Manufacturing Practices” taught over the summer by the PI of this grant. This class also called for hands on training in Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP),(the production of clinical grade materials for stem cell trials) inside the CIRM funded UC Davis GMP facility. The students took two written exams and one practical exam, including an exam for sterile fill inside the GMP facility. They all earned a truly deserved training certificate, as all student interns passed the written and practical exams. The individual mentors and the PI supervised the students in creating their research posters that were presented at the CIRM poster day, and also selected one student speaker for an oral presentation. All of our summer interns participated in the CIRM social media request, and created an outstanding video of their internship experience. Participation in a second, not stem cell research related activity was also required. As the PI of this award has also been teaching, for the last 9 years, an accredited college seminar called “The History of the Motion Pictures” at the UC Davis main campus and is an expert in film history and its technical development, the students were introduced to this subject. Regular workshops depicting the development of the motion pictures, over the last 100 years, were held for the students. This allowed them to experience what effort it took to get motion pictures from parlor exhibitions into 16 theater multiplexes, as we are used to today. A special effort was put into explaining to students the development of color film, which has an extensive history, starting at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, with being fully developed in the early 1930s. The interesting part of this second activity was that the students did not see this in lectures or in books, they actually were able to experience this by the seeing and interacting with the original historic film and equipment, hands on. They saw a 70 year old, original 35mm film print run on original historic film equipment, in the proper historic setting. This was a very unique opportunity for the students, as movie theaters have switched to digital projection and do not show film anymore. This activity complemented the students’ summer lab research projects, as they were now able to see how much scientific and technical effort it took to develop motion pictures into this huge industry that we know now, and how much creative talent and development it has taken to come to the artistic level required for movies to become “the” art form of the 20th century. It also became clear to the students, through comparison with the development of the motion picture industry, that a new field, such as stem cell science today, needs dedicated, highly skilled and hard working individuals who will persevere to become successful, and at the same time, make the new field successful. The internship program really inspired these young people who spent their summer with us. The student interns expressed their desire to continue their education in the biological / biotech field. Excellent researchers and highly skilled biotechnology laboratory personnel will be needed in the near and extended future to produce stem cell treatments in California, which are currently translated into clinical applications by CIRM funded stem cell research laboratories. These young people are the future of California’s health and economy.