Year 6

The goal of the UCLA CIRM training program is to identify and train the next generation of leaders in stem cell biology. In order to meet this goal, we select the most qualified trainees, require that they complete a course in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, and provide them with state of the art laboratory training. A two-step process is initiated each spring to select trainees from a pool that averages ~7 applications for each available training grant position. Applicants initially submit a short letter of intent. Asmall subset of these applicants is then invited to submit a full application. Each letter of intent and full application is reviewed by three Broad Stem Cell Research Center Members, along with the training grant director, and at minimum five pre-doctoral, six post-doctoral, and 5 clinical fellows are appointed each spring. In addition to the quality of the applicant, the strength of the faculty mentor is also a major selection criterion. Following appointment as a CIRM fellow, each trainee undertakes rigorous laboratory training with a focus on how to define scientific questions, design experiments to answer them, and formulate the results into scientific publications. Our trainees have published their research results in leading, high impact journals that include Cell, Cell Stem Cell, and Genes and Development. In addition, each CIRM fellow is required to attend a 45 hour graduate level course in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine designed specifically for the CIRM training program. The initial course sessions include lectures on human embryology and the generation and manipulation of human embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells. The second block of lectures focuses on mesenchymal stem cells, cancer stem cells, and selected tissue specific stem cells (i.e., hematopoietic stem cells, neural stem cells, lung stem cells, prostate stem cells, cardiac stem cells, and muscle stem cells). Finally, the last group of lectures provides training in ethics, regulatory affairs, and intellectual property. As part of the course, each CIRM pre-doctoral, post-doctoral, and clinical trainee presents a 30 minute talk in which they provide the background, current findings, and future direction of their CIRM supported research. This allows the training grant Director, who coordinates the course and attends every course meeting, the opportunity to review the performance of each CIRM trainee. Since initial receipt of the UCLA CIRM training grant award in 2006, 30 pre-doctoral, 27 post-doctoral, and 31 clinical fellows have been trained. Many pre-doctoral fellows have graduated and are now pursuing post-doctoral training at major stem cell laboratories at Harvard University, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Several post-doctoral trainees are faculty members at major domestic universities, such as the University of Wisconsin, as well as international institutions that include Tsinghua University in Beijing and Fuzhou University in Fujian Provence, China or staff scientists at pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies such as Sigma Aldrich and Takeda Pharmaceuticals where they are working on stem cell based therapeutics. Our clinical fellows, who because of their CIRM training are well poised to translate their research to patients, are now faculty members at leading institutions that include Ohio State University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, UCLA, and UCSF. Finally, our trainees are also staff scientists Thus, as a result of the training they have received under the auspices of the UCLA CIRM training grant, our pre-doctoral, post-doctoral, and clinical fellows have assumed important positions at major international, national, and California institutions. In the latter case, our former trainees are now providing mentorship, research, and clinical training to the next generation of Californian’s with interests in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.