Public Summary of Progress
The CSUN-UCLA Bridges to Stem Cell Research Training Program provides a practical laboratory training experience in stem cell biology with integrated educational seminars and mentored guidance for highly qualified and culturally diverse senior undergraduate and Master’s level students. UCLA, our internship-host institution, provides mentors who are world-leaders in stem cell research. The variety of available hands-on training environments include embryonic, induced pluripotent, and adult stem cell biology, spanning the basic to translational investigative spectrum. Our partnership has achieved the major Bridges Program objectives including: 1) training laboratory personnel in current stem cell research techniques, policies, and ethics, and 2) facilitating the entry of an ethnically and culturally diverse student population into the emerging world of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.
Thus far, 50 Bridges trainees have studied the latest advances in stem cell biology and have presented their own work in many settings including symposia at UCLA, CSUN, CSUPERB, and domestic and international stem cell meetings. The vast majority of intern time has been spent on laboratory research. Working with faculty, researchers, and staff technicians, Bridges interns became experts in stem cell and essential analysis techniques such as microscopy, cell sorting, and good laboratory practices (GLP) in the internship-host lab and affiliated cores. This hands-on experience was supplemented by participation in a biweekly Stem Cell Journal Club, a weekly stem cell seminar series, a yearly International Stem Cell Symposium, and by informal mentoring by host-institution faculty who have an active role in the student’s education by functioning as advisor, teacher, and collaborator during the internship program. A key component was trainee mentoring from both CSUN and UCLA mentors that has provided a supportive environment for learning and discovery, and has monitored and evaluated the trainees’ progress through the program at both the home and internship-host institution.
Our program has been extremely successful in post-internship stem cell related activities for our trainees. Six trainees have gone on to PhD programs, 7 in Medical Schools, 22 in academic and industry jobs relating to stem cell research, and 13 completing their degrees. Twelve of our students are NIH underrepresented minorities and another twenty two are culturally diverse students.