Year 5

The goal of the UCLA CIRM training program is to identify and train the next generation of leaders in stem cell biology. In order to meet this goal, we select the most qualified trainees, require that they complete a rigorous course in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, and provide them with state of the art laboratory training. The availability of CIRM training grant positions is announced each spring and applicants are invited to submit a short letter of intent (LOI). We receive up to 7 LOIs for each training grant slot. A small subset of LOI applicants is invited to submit a full application, and trainees are chosen from this latter group. Each LOI and full application is reviewed by three Broad Stem Cell Research Center Members, along with the training grant director, who assess the quality of the applicant and the strength of the faculty mentor. Five pre-doctoral, six post-doctoral, and 5 clinical fellows are appointed each spring. Following appointment as a CIRM fellow, each trainee receives rigorous laboratory training with a focus on how to define scientific questions, design experiments to answer them, and formulate the results into scientific publications. Our trainees have published their research results in leading, high impact journals that include Cell, Cell Stem Cell, and Genes and Development. In addition, each CIRM fellow is required to attend a 45 hour graduate level course in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine designed specifically for the CIRM training program. The initial lectures focus on human embryology, the generation and manipulation of human embryonic stem cells, and induced pluripotent stem cells. The next block of lectures focuses on specific types of stem cells that include mesenchymal stem cells, cancer stem cells, hematopoietic stem cells, neural stem cells, lung stem cells, prostate stem cells, cardiac stem cells, cartilage stem cells and/or muscle stem cells. Finally, the last group of lectures provides training in ethics, regulatory affairs, and intellectual property. As part of the course, each CIRM pre-doctoral, post-doctoral, and clinical trainee presents a 30 minute talk in which they provide the background, current findings, and future direction of their research. This allows the training grant Director, who coordinates the course and attends every course meeting, the opportunity to review the performance of each CIRM trainee. Since initial receipt of the UCLA CIRM training grant award in 2006, 23 pre-doctoral, 22 post-doctoral, and 25 clinical fellows have been trained. Many of the pre-doctoral fellows have graduated and are now pursuing post-doctoral training at major stem cell laboratories at Harvard University, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Several post-doctoral trainees have assumed faculty positions at major domestic universities, such as the University of Wisconsin, as well as international institutions that include Tsinghua University in Beijing and Fuzhou University in Fujian Provence, China where they are now directing their own independent research laboratories. Our clinical fellows, who because of their CIRM training are well poised to translate their research to patients, are now faculty members at leading institutions that include Ohio State University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, UCLA, and UCSF. Finally, our trainees are also staff scientists at Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology companies such as Sigma Aldrich and Takeda Pharmaceuticals in San Francisco where they are poised to develop stem cell based therapeutics. Thus, as a result of the training they have received under the auspices of the UCLA CIRM training grant, our pre-doctoral, post-doctoral, and clinical fellows have assumed important positions at major international, national, and California institutions. In the latter case, our former trainees are now providing mentorship, research, and clinical training to the next generation of Californian’s with interests in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.