Begun in 2006, City College of San Francisco’s Stem Cell Technology Certificate Program was one of the first ever programs to specifically provide training in the field of stem cell biology. The goal of our program is to reach out to the diverse population of students and impart the knowledge, skills, and motivation for a rewarding career in stem cell research or related fields (such as medical/clinical laboratories involved with stem cell therapies). One of the key components to a successful program such as this is the internship component which would not be possible without CIRM. Once our students complete our program, they have the opportunity to work full time as an intern in a host research laboratory.
Our Stem Cell Technology Certificate program can be completed in 2 semesters. The focus of the coursework is hands-on skills and all of the courses are taught in the laboratory. Students will become familiar with many of the techniques used in research. We bring in guest instructors; scientists from both UCSF and Gladstone Institutes to ensure that the students are being taught about the most current and exciting work in the field. After they complete their coursework, they receive a certificate and are eligible to apply for an internship.
Each student intern will complete their own research project in the host laboratory. During the internship, the students take an additional support course where we continue to augment their training by featuring the development of relevant skills such as giving oral research presentations and journal clubs, reading scientific papers, analyzing data, troubleshooting and documentation. The students are encouraged to share and discuss their internship experiences in a supportive environment with their fellow interns. At the end of the internship, the student interns highlight their accomplishments with a scientific poster presentation at both a CCSF and a CIRM scientific conference.
Student projects have ranged from investigating cardiac disease by utilizing beating cells in a dish, finding differences in DNA expression in different types of stem cells, and creating new ways to study blood disorders by investigating bone marrow stem cells.
Our interns contributed to the basic research of stem cells including the study of differentiation, germ cell development, human embryogenesis and hematopoiesis, and the optimization of assays and disease models. While their contributions may have been small, introducing students to the rewarding field of stem cell biology research will have a lasting impact. We inspire these students, who come from all walks of life, to search for answers, to make discoveries, with the hope that their efforts may some day result in a cure and a better life. Most of our students who complete this program do continue on to have careers related to this field. Training and motivating these students will lead to a brighter future for us all.