Our Bridges to Stem Cell Research program just matriculated its fifth year cohort. We have a very successful recruitment protocol in place that ensures a well qualified and diverse pool of students that we can draw from. In each of the past years we have continued to educate our recruited students in tissue culture techniques and stem cell biology. They received further training with a human and mammalian ESC course at UC Riverside. Once the training completed they were successfully place in host facilities which included UC Riverside, City of Hope Medical Center, UC Irvine, Loma Linda University, Stanford University, University of Southern California and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. All interns presented their work at the annual CIRM Bridges meeting and several of this year’s cohort will be presenting their work at the Inland Empire Stem Cell Consortium. We also have vibrant and very active Student Society for Stem Cell Research that has organized many outreach projects within our immediate community and last year organized a very successful Stem Cell Symposium on our campus that was attended by more than 200 students and stem cell researchers. The program also was very successful in educating (~ 200 undergraduates on our campus) about stem cells and stem cell therapies.
The majority of the students from the last cohort have not yet matriculated from our campus and as such we do not have outcomes for year 5 cohort. We expect that this group will have similar successes as those achieved by students from previous cohorts. Overall we have a 90%+ success rate in enabling our students to either get hired as research/lab technicians or gain admission to Ph.D. granting programs in regenerative medicine or professional schools. We have research technicians at City of Hope Medical Center, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Cedars Sinai Hospital, John Wayne Cancer Institute, California Institute of Technology, UC Riverside and also at a couple of biotech companies. Some of our interns are completing their Ph.D. M.D. D.V.M and Pharmacy degrees at top tier programs at Stanford University, University of Massachusetts, and UCLA. Our interns have co-authored more than 15 publications as a result on their research they completed while in the program. As such it is certainly the case that our program has directly and indirectly contributed to and strengthened the future of stem cell research in California. These outcomes can be very elegantly summarized in a recent letter the program director received from a year two cohort intern.
“The CIRM Bridges internship was a tremendous opportunity that I am fortunate to have had. It was the first real exposure I had to research and it acted as a springboard to my career. I have the opportunity to pursue what I love and care for patients because of the grant from CIRM. More than that though, I get to see these patients who are suffering and know that by the time I finish my residency program these ailments may have a better answer. It’s striking and empowering to think that the work I did and the work my peers continue to pursue may play a part in that. The training at my home institute was the most translational coursework I had during my studies. For this reason, it made up the most interesting undergraduate work I took part in. The Bridges internship gave me a foundation of the core fundamentals of science, medicine, and healing. I had an opportunity to act with autonomy and ask questions while working with my mentors to search for answers. The CIRM Bridges program has broadened the horizons of so many individuals and extended opportunities in science and medicine that would otherwise be unachievable. These students are on the cutting edge. After our training we go on to act as forerunners in our fields pushing advancement…… Yes, I walked out with a grasp of regenerative medicine that I wouldn’t have had otherwise, but the skills and outlook I acquired have been applicable to every aspect of my career. Upon entering medical school at UCLA, I found that my experience working in regenerative medicine gave me a unique perspective in relation to my classmates. Diving into primary literature came easy and I looked at pathology with inquiry. This view is a fundamental part of being a physician, and the Bridges program was the start of my road to lifelong learning. I encountered disease. The diseases made me think back to my fellow Bridges awardees’ work as I related pathologies to people. I had colleagues who were making rounds at the bench-top to help these patients I now see at the bedside. I cannot express how vital it is that students continue to have the opportunity to pursue a question in the way I did. The students at CSUSB bring a unique perspective from a very diverse background to the field of translational medicine. We all work towards a cure, and these students need to continue to have an opportunity to do that.”