Our CIRM Bridges program is situated in an urban university that serves a highly diverse student population. Our CIRM Bridges program is in partnership with three local research institutions. The CIRM Bridges program supports students in two distinct master’s program that prepares students to enter the stem cell workforce: a Masters of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology with an emphasis in Stem Cell Biology (the “MS program”) and a Professional Science Masters with a concentration in Stem Cell Science (the “PSM program”). The CIRM Bridges program supports 10 students each year.
Both master’s programs provide courses in developmental, molecular, and cell biology as well as bioethics and scientific writing taught by faculty. PSM students also take business and biotechnology courses. During the summer after completing their first year of the program, students participate in a week-long intensive Stem Cell Laboratory course taught by stem cell faculty at our local research medical center. CIRM Bridges students learn to propagate, maintain, and manipulate embryonic and adult stem cells.
Both programs provide students with an intensive research experience in stem cell research labs at one of our host institutions. The stem cell research training ship culminates in a draft of a manuscript and an oral thesis defense.
Mentoring and professional development are an integral part of both programs. Student cohorts meet monthly with the Program Director (PD) to discuss their academic and research activities. Students also gain a broader introduction to the importance and application of stem cell research from guest speakers. The PD meets regularly with the students and their research mentors to provide continuity of programming and ensure that students thrive in their internships.
Through its CIRM Bridges to Stem Cell Research program, we offer a new general education course “The Science and Politics of Stem Cell Research”. This course educates a broad audience.
Thus, CIRM funding will allow our institution to make an important contribution to the stem cell workforce that truly reflects the diverse composition of our state in partnership with three preeminent research institutions.