The San José State University Stem Cell Internships in Laboratory-based Learning (SJSU SCILL) is a consortium of scientists, faculty, and administrative leaders from Bay Area institutions who have made a commitment to training students at the graduate level for careers in stem cell biology. Graduates from this program will advance and accelerate stem cell therapies and increase community awareness about scientific and societal issues related to stem cells and regenerative medicine.
San José State University has partnered with Stanford University, University of California, Santa Cruz, Dorian therapeutics, Amgen Inc, Notable Labs, Soteria Biotherapeutics, Neurona, and Tenaya Therapeutics to provide students with the academic and practical laboratory experience that will prepare them for careers in stem cell research and development of novel therapies.
The SJSU SCILL program is designed to be completed in two years. Typically, SJSU SCILL students will take graduate laboratory courses in immunology, molecular biology, flow cytometry, and stem cell biology, as well as courses in regulatory affairs, therapy development processes, and clinical trial management. Students also engage in patient interaction activities and develop a community outreach plan to share their knowledge and their expertise in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine with their communities. Each SJSU SCILL trainee completes 12 months of full-time hands-on research in human stem cells, progenitor cells, or gene therapy, at one of our research universities or translational research partners, involving stem cell product development. On the successful completion of the SJSU SCILL curriculum and internship, students are awarded a master’s degree and are prepared for a career in stem cell biology.
The SJSU SCILL Program has a solid track record in training stem cell professionals at a graduate level, all from among California residents and representative of the diverse ethnicities of our state. More than 95% of our students have completed the two-year program. More than 90% are employed primarily in the state of California and about 50% of those are working in stem cell-related fields in academia, in the biotech industry, or have continued to higher advanced degrees.
The past year June 1, 2020, to May 31, 2021, was highly impacted by the constraints and restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, we advanced the performance of three cohorts 2019, 2020, and 2021 in the program:
Cohort 2019- was placed in internships throughout the summer of 2020. The hESC workshop was not available for this cohort prior to the internship. Still, interns will complete that on June 14-19, 2021.
Students in this cohort were gradually enrolled in internship labs. Some students started earlier than others according to each of the labs’ restrictions and distancing capabilities. Many of the students joined a shift in their lab for in-person training and participated in online and zoom activities conducted in each lab. Students in this cohort were placed in labs at Stanford, Amgen, Notable Labs, and Dorian therapeutics. Their performance, although limited, was still a major contribution to the hosting labs. At least 40-50% of this cohort will continue to work and be hired in the internship labs after the completion of the internships, which reflects on their substantial contributions to the lab despite the pandemic constraints.
Cohort 2020 – was trained at SJSU mainly online and virtually throughout Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 and matched with internship labs. The stem cell biology classes moved to online and were supplemented with enriching stem cell seminars and meetings that were offered online. Since in-person lab activity was not offered during the pandemic, many of the interns in this cohort started their internships on a voluntary basis during Spring 2021, prior to the official internship start date. The students in this cohort were placed at Stanford, UCSC, Soteria Biotherapeutics, Dorian, Notable Labs, Tenaya Therapeutics. They will attend the hESC on June 14-19, 2021, and officially start their internships in June or July 2021.
Cohort 2021- was accepterd in the SCILL program in Spring 2021. Students were interviewed throughout spring 2021 and accepted recently. Their first orientation was on June 15, 2021.
Although many of the regular activities were impacted by the pandemic, we feel that the past year provided our students with valuable exposure in an era of crisis that taught them a great deal of resilience, to observe but also be part of the scientific community that made enormous efforts to respond with therapeutics and to the epidemic as well as maintain important ongoing science projects.