The City of Hope welcomed the CIRM Creativity program for a fourth and final year. Eight students were selected from 343 applicants allowing them to gain experience in the laboratory under the guidance of a Principal Investigator. Along with their research, students also learned to use their creativity through weekly workshops. Students worked in a variety of departments, including: Hematopoietic Stem Cell and Leukemia Research, Radiation Biology, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Neurosciences, and Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases.
The CIRM Creativity program provides a unique opportunity for students to be involved in stem cell research while motivating them to think creatively. Throughout their ten week internship, students work in active biomedical research laboratories while learning from their PIs, mentors, and various staff. They work with their mentors to create an independent research project displaying their results in our annual poster session and a written report.
Students are provided with opportunities to learn through various scientific and career development programs. These programs are held on a consistent weekly basis; they vary from networking etiquette to meeting distinguished researchers throughout the country. Students are able to attend one lunch with our invited speakers; this allows them to have a more personal conversation about their work and life story. Four of the seminars were the following:
• Dr. Bonnie Freeman, a nurse practitioner in the Department of Supportive Care Medicine, discussed her CARES tool which she developed during her doctoral research. The CARES tool is a tool for the Care of the Dying.
• Dr. Eugene Roberts, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Neurobiochemistry, spoke about his research, career path and general advice for budding scientists. His presentation was “Never Too Young & Never Too Old.”
• Dr. Yuman Fong, Chairman of the Department of Surgery, City of Hope, engaged the students in his presentation titled “Medicine in the Robotic and Gene Therapy Age”.
• Dr. Kate Sleeth, Graduate & Professional Studies Program Director, gave a presentation on the “Ethics of Research Involving Humans”. She gave a historical perspective discussing cases where research was not performed ethically.
Students have the option to give an oral presentation in our student series. This encourages students to work with our faculty to improve their public speaking and presentation skills. Students in the audience ask questions about their research in a formal question and answer segment. All students create a research poster to communicate their independent research project at the end of their internship. Over three hundred guests attended the poster session to support these students.
The program fosters creativity through a weekly workshop instructed by our staff. These workshops promote student collaboration and discussion, teaching students to think with new perspectives when approaching situations. This year, we held four creative workshops for our students. The first was the creation of a vision board. Students were taught to think with clarity while determining short term and long term goals. The second workshop involved guest speaker Jackson Ridd, a magician and entertainer who discussed the art and psychology of perception. The third workshop focused on public speaking and conversational etiquette when discussing scientific research. Students were able to examine each other’s body language, mannerisms, and vocabulary when speaking to an audience. The final workshop was a marketing workshop which focused on the power of print ads and company branding. Students applied their discussion and research to develop a new brand image for Herceptin in various countries.
An additional workshop and weekly project the students worked on was the musical parody. Students revised the lyrics to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “I Really Like You” and transformed it into “We’re Really Close (To A Breakthrough)”. The video received high praise by fellow students and faculty and won second place at the 2015 Creativity Day in San Francisco. The video is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGyLUyro89w
Students attended three exhibits in the Downtown Los Angeles Area. They were the following:
• A private tour of NASA/JPL to discuss the work performed, space exploration and the Mars Curiosity rover.
• A private tour of the BODIES exhibit in Buena Park where they learnt about the plastination process created by Dr. Gunther von Hagens and physiology of the human body.
• A trip to the La Brea Tar pits to discover how fossils are formed, the animals that roamed the local area in prehistoric times and how global warming affects species.
The CIRM Creativity program at the City of Hope has positively impacted over thirty students over the past four years, providing both knowledge and creativity in the lives of our students. We hope to continue our relationship with CIRM in the future.