Year 5

During the reporting period, we have contributed and strengthened the future of stem cell research in California in several ways. The most immediate and direct impact has been in the students that were trained as Bridges interns. There were 20 individual students that were specifically trained in stem cell research and worked closely with the most talented and productive stem cell researchers in our region. These students come from diverse backgrounds, including ethnic representation, age and genders. These students are the future of stem cell research as they continue in their laboratories, complete their academic degrees or move onto advanced education. For example, we have students from the previous reporting period that are graduating with their undergraduate degree and are now entering PhD programs. These successes would not have been possible without the Bridges to Stem Cell Research training.

As part of our focus on training students in stem cell research and recruiting a diverse pool of applicants into the program, we performed several activities. One of our courses in the previous reporting periods, Cellular Biotechnology, emphasized stem cell research in theory and practice. Beyond specific coursework, we also held a stem cell retreat for the incoming and outgoing Bridges interns. The outgoing Bridges interns presented their research to the campus. We moreover had a workshop to prepare the next set of students that were preparing their applications to the program so they can understand the requirements and goals of the program. Lastly, we held an intern:mentor mixer function at CSUSM to acquaint new Bridges interns with the available mentors and the research conducted in their laboratories. These different forums ensure that we train, recruit and support the science students and Bridges interns to successfully accomplish stem cell research.

We have also exposed our campus and the general community to stem cell research through a seminar series supported by the Bridges to Stem Cell Research program. We have hosted six seminars, ranging from new techniques in industry to stem cells and infectious diseases, that has enhanced the exposure of these topics to our students, faculty, staff and community members. As part of our goals to educate non-scientists in stem cell research in California, we have impacted hundreds of CSUSM students through a non-majors course called Trends in 21st Century Medicine. This course has a large stem cell research emphasis and was offered through both semesters of the last reporting period. One additional effort to reach more individuals in California has been to provide talks to high schools on Stem Cell Awareness Day. Both the Program Director as well as previous Bridges interns went to multiple high schools and spoke to students. These efforts continue to emphasize our goal of reaching a larger audience in California.