Year 6+NCE

The focus of USC’s training program in stem cell biology and medicine continues to be to train the next generation of stem cell scientists, with the overall goal of alleviating human suffering caused by deficiencies in stem cell function.

Our CIRM training grant funds predoctoral students pursuing a Ph.D. degree, postdoctoral fellows seeking training beyond their Ph.D, M.D. or other health related doctoral degrees (e.g. DDS, DPT, DrPH), and clinical fellows (M.D.s), in the final stages of their training, seeking to augment their clinical training with research experience.

Common to each of these groups is practical training in which fellows conduct research in the laboratories of USC faculty members who work in diverse areas of stem cell biology.

An equally important part of the program is a series of seminars designed to expose students to cutting edge stem cell science and the most accomplished scientists in the field. We also expect the students themselves to present their own work to their peers, and we have provided several venues for them to do so, including a weekly Stem Cell and Developmental Biology seminar series, a yearly Stem Cell Retreat, and a Stem Cell Day at USC in which students and fellows present their latest work.

Our training program also includes didactic classes in stem cell biology, developmental biology and stem cell ethics. These classes provide the most advanced information about stem cell science, serving to immerse students in the latest scientific literature and provide them with a deep awareness of the bioethical issues that stem cell scientists face.

Finally, as of this year, we are offering our students and fellows a series of career and professional development seminars focusing on issues such as the practical steps in how to prepare a resume, what to expect on a job interview, and how to approach the choice between an academic position and a position in industry.

Some highlights and accomplishments of our program during the reporting period include the following.

Clinical Fellow Christopher Schliev named was Broad Clinical Research Fellows in June 2016
Dr. Alexander Ring, a former CIRM clinical fellow, completed his PhD in May 2016.
Predoctoral Fellow Kimberley Babos was featured in ISSCR Member Spotlight in March 2016

Another milestone in stem cell research at USC is the inauguration of a new graduate program, Development, Stem Cells, and Regenerative Medicine (DSR). This program, one of only a few in the country, will offer Ph.D. degrees in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. The third class of students matriculated into the program during summer of 2016.

A number of our fellows have contributed to important advances in stem cell research. For example, Dr. Maksim Plikus, a former CIRM postdoctoral fellow and current Assistant Professor in the Department of Developmental and Cell Biology and member of the UC Irvine Stem Cell Research Center at UC Irvine, has published several outstanding papers in the area of skin development and regeneration, and has published 30 papers since his appointment as a fellow. Dr. Plikus also received a supplement to his NIH R01 in September 2015
In addition, work done by our fellows led to 8 publications in stem cell journals in 2015-2016.
Our fellows (current and past) continued to present their research work at local, state, national and international events. Below is a selected list:

• Numerous CIRM fellows presented at the USC/UCSF/UCLA Tri-Institutional Stem Cell Retreat in Santa Barbara, May 2015.
• Hua Shen, a postdoctoral fellow, presented his work at the annual Weinstein Cardiovascular Conference, Boston MA, May 2015.
• Eduardo Seclen, a postdoctoral fellow, presented at the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy, 2015.
• Christopher Schlieve, a postdoctoral fellow, presented at the American College of Surgeons Annual Meeting on Career Development/Academic Research, 2015. He also presented at the International Society for Stem Cell Research workshop on Clinical Translation in 2016.