The mission of the Research Training Program in Stem Cell Biology at City of Hope (CoH) is to train CIRM Scholars at the predoctoral and postdoctoral levels in the fundamental biology of stem cells and in strategies for translating this knowledge towards treatment of diseases. The program was initiated in December 2009. Fourteen CIRM Scholars, ten postdoctoral and four predoctoral, have participated to date. As of July 2014, one postdoctoral trainee has obtained a research position, one predoctoral trainee has obtained a senior postdoctoral research position, six Scholars have completed the training program; and six scholars are participating in the training program.
A key element of the program is maximum feasible participation of CIRM Scholars in all campus stem cell activities.
(1) Formal Educational Components
City of Hope strives to provide a well-rounded formal education for our CIRM Scholars. This includes enrollment in courses such as Stem Cells in Biology and Medicine and Social, Legal, and Ethical Implications of Stem Cell Research. Students also participate in the Stem Cell Journal Club, the Stem Cell Seminar Series and the Annual Conference on Bringing Stem Cell Discoveries to the Clinic. These forums incorporate their research and community into their education.
One major goal of these organized events is to have the training program serve as a nexus for multiple campus stem cell-related activities. Therefore, they are open to other graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and the institute at large, as appropriate. Increasing general interest has been reflected by growing attendance and participation by faculty and others in these activities.
Stem Cells in Biology and Medicine Course
The multi-campus course “Stem Cells in Biology and Medicine” was organized jointly by CoH, USC and CHLA. The courseconsists of two sessions per week, with basic science lectures paired with translational or clinical lectures on the related subjects. Real-time sharing of PowerPoint presentations and separate images of lecturers and/or audience members over an electronic link during the lectures and question sessions enables presentations to be given and received locally, and are also posted on a course web site. The course was also an Advanced Topics offering for CoH graduate students, who are required to take two such courses for graduation. It was advertised campus-wide, and was open to all interested parties.
Ethical Issues in Stem Cell Biology and Medicine
Social, Legal and Ethical Implications of Stem Cell Research Course was a multi-campus course also offered cooperatively with USC and CHLA in spring 2011. Five lecture/discussions sessions on stem cell ethics were followed by three sessions where students on each campus organized reading/discussion sessions on relevant issues. Grades were based on participation in classroom discussion and the student-organized presentations. This course was built upon, and extended, earlier required workshops in Responsible Conduct of Research for predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows. A revised version of this course is in planning and development with the new name of Ethical Issues in Stem Cell Biology and Medicine which will be offered to the CIRM Scholars and the graduate students attending the Irell and Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences in January 2015.
Presentation Skills Course
This is a monthly training course held over one year focusing on proper delivery of scientific research to different audiences. The five main components necessary for scientific success are: (i) Presentations to a scientific audience; (ii) Presentations to a lay audience; (iii) Posters; (iv) Job interviews; and (v) Chalk talks. Each scholar is given the opportunity to prepare and deliver presentations for each component to their peers and the program leadership. At the conclusion of each presentation CIRM Scholars and program leadership provide feedback and critique. Presentations are also recorded for private use of students to review body language, intonation, and presence. This course has improved the presentation skills of each of the students through both delivery and structure.
(2) Other program activities
Stem Cell Journal Club
Currently the largest journal club on campus, the Stem Cell Journal Club provides a forum to discuss the latest publications with peers. The club is training grant-sponsored and includes students and professors from the entire campus. Each CIRM Scholar presents at least one paper annually; each presentation is followed by a small group review with faculty leaders and other CIRM scholars.
The Stem Cell Group Seminar Series
This series is sponsored jointly by the training program and the Office of New Research Initiatives. Speakers have included key California stem cell scientists as well as other national and international researchers. Each presentation is followed by a small hosted lunch to which CIRM Scholars are invited.