Year 6

This annual progress report documents the activities of the CIRM-funded type 3 grant to train postdoctoral scientists at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) in La Jolla, California. SBP faculty direct a large stem cell research and teaching enterprise that comprises over 100 biologists, chemists, engineers and clinicians with extensive expertise in stem cell biology and in allied disciplines dedicated to stem cell-based therapies for cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, hematopoietic and metabolic disorders.

During the past year, the SBP CIRM training program trained 6 postdoctoral fellows, who were selected from an applicant pool by a committee of faculty who are experts in stem cell biology and experienced mentors of young scientists. The trainees conducted research on stem cell engineering, directed differentiation and drug discovery. Most of the Trainees’ projects focused on the use of stem cells to treat degenerative diseases, although a few use patient specific stem cells to develop therapies for other diseases.

In addition, the program organized lecture, journal club and laboratory courses jointly with similar CIRM programs at the Salk Institute, Scripps Research Institute and the University of California, San Diego. Our curriculum included intensive lecture courses on Stem Cell Biology (>48 hours lectures), and Ethics, Intellectual Property and Regulatory Affairs (>20 hours lectures) and a 3-week hands-on, intensive laboratory courses. These core courses were required of all CIRM trainees at the four institutions. All of the trainees met the requirements for coursework and research progress. The program also funded instructors to provide specialized workshops in human pluripotent stem cell techniques and we co-hosted a retreat of all CIRM program trainees in SBP, Salk Institute, Scripps Research Institute and the University of California, San Diego. Our trainees also attended local La Jolla and CIRM statewide trainee meetings to augment interchange and education. In addition, the training program provided a research stipend to defray the costs of the trainees’ research.

The program is designed to offer comprehensive training in stem cell research and allied disciplines required to translate basic discoveries to clinic, biotechnology and pharmaceutical settings. The program created an enduring benefit to stem cell research by introducing new technology into established laboratories, and training a new generation of scientists.