Year 6

In this sixth and last year of the CIRM UC San Diego Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Training Grant II we continued to build up early-career investigators as professional researchers dedicated to enriching California and the world as they work creatively, innovatively, productively and collaboratively on stem cell biology, engineering, and medicine.

In an open call for fellowship applications from our top basic science, engineering and medical students, postdocs, and physicians, we selected the most meritorious with different projects from diverse labs.

Seven predoctoral students, seven postdoctoral scholars, and five clinical fellows were appointed in the 2014-2015 group.

Five of seven pre-doctoral fellows, four of seven postdocs and three of five clinical fellows were newly appointed. The CIRM UCSD Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Research and Training Program II has held high prestige and steady interest among applicants and faculty. The quality of pre and postdoctoral applicants remained high, with many MD and PhD candidates in the predoctoral pool and many published scientific authors in the postdoc pool. The rigorous educational elements of the program, especially the multiinstitutional and team taught Core Course, the stem cell journal club, and the fellows’ retreat attracted positive notice from faculty, postdocs, and students. The interdisciplinary focus and insistence on collaborative work has created a good reputation for CIRM-funded fellows. Many applicants entered having already completed the popular Stem Cell Course as graduate students, and many have previous experience with cell culture of hESC or human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC).

UCSD CIRM fellows actively participated in a program of special lab courses, didactic courses, research seminars, and journal clubs to present findings, build relationships, hone professionalism, and develop interdisciplinary contacts. The 2014-2015 trainees participated in the core course, building their own scholarly interactions. The annual multiinstitutional retreat was held in August 2015 at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (formerly, the Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute) to motivate scholarly interaction among the UCSD fellows and their Consortium colleagues at the Salk, Sanford Burnham Prebys, and Scripps institutions. One fellow reported, “After hearing another fellow’s talk at the CIRM trainee retreat of 2014, I sought collaboration with her to optimize a skeletal muscle differentiation from iPSCs…”

CIRM UCSD trainees also participated in the Stem Cell Meeting on the Mesa IX October 9, 2014 and others at the Stem cell Meeting on the Mesa X on October 9, 2015. Current and past UC San Diego CIRM Fellows will present, for example, their research on muscle growth and repair, modeling neural cells in autism, and new ways to find cancer stem cells within a tumor. Just as our CIRM UC San Diego Training Grant fellows do, the Stem Cell Meeting on the Mesa presentations integrated topics of ethics, social impact, translational medicine, and interaction with industry. Many fellows have lauded the program for improving their science communication skills and helping them make scientific connections with other early-career investigators

The University of California San Diego CIRM Stem Cell Research & Training grant has provided fellowships to 89 UC San Diego fellows in 49 different labs in Engineering, Medicine, and Biological Sciences. Graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and physicians all have received research support, ethics training, and education in stem cell science and regenerative medicine, creating at UC San Diego, and throughout the world, an innovative, rigorously trained community of stem cell scholars, doctors, and innovators. From oncologists to neurosurgeons, cardiac bioengineers to basic scientists, the Californians trained in the CIRM UC San Diego Interdisciplinary program have made significant contributions to our knowledge and our health. Of the 89 fellows trained in the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Program, 72 remain in the state of California as vital members of our life sciences and medical communities. Eleven are in industry. Twenty eight are physicians, with specialties including neurosurgery, maternal/fetal health, heart failure, pediatrics, and oncology. They bring advanced knowledge of stem cell science and ethics to their clinical practices. Those remaining in academic work continue to attract significant federal funding, and their superb training allows them to immediately contribute to new scientific projects. Some of our early career researchers have attracted private funding to support their work on very difficult and meaningful problems, such as dissecting the processes of creating blood or understanding the way pancreatic development goes wrong and results in cancer. Many trainees remain in Southern California, researching, practicing medicine or contributing at innovative local companies.