Year 7

Our Bridges to Stem Cell Research program just matriculated its seventh year cohort. We have a very successful recruitment protocol in place that ensures a well qualified and diverse pool of students that we can draw from. In each of the past years we have continued to educate our recruited students in tissue culture techniques and stem cell biology (both theory and practice) . They received further training with a human and mammalian ESC course at UC Riverside. Once the training completed they were successfully place in host facilities which included UC Riverside, UC Irvine, Loma Linda University, and Western Health Sciences University. All interns presented their work at the annual CIRM Bridges meeting and several of this year’s cohort presented their work at the Inland Empire Stem Cell Consortium that we hosted. We also have vibrant and very active Student Society for Stem Cell Research that has organized many outreach projects within our immediate community and helped this year with our Inland Empire Stem Cell Symposium. The society also run a bone marrow drive with the support of City of Hope Hospital and were able to sign up to the registry more than 100 students. This was of particular importance to the director of the program, since her cousin was saved just a few months ago from a stem cell transplant at City of Hope. The program also was very successful in educating (~ 200 undergraduates on our campus) about stem cells and stem cell therapies.

About half of the students in this cohort matriculated last spring and the rest are graduating in a few days . We expect that this group will have similar successes as those achieved by students from previous cohorts. Overall we have a 90%+ success rate in enabling our students to either get hired as research/lab technicians or gain admission to Ph.D. granting programs in regenerative medicine or professional schools. We have research technicians at City of Hope Medical Center, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Cedars Sinai Hospital, Irvine Scientific, Organos, Scripps Institute, California Institute of Technology, UC Riverside and also at a number of biotech companies including the very successful Kite Pharmaceuticals. Some of our interns are completing their Ph.D. M.D. D.V.M and Pharmacy degrees at top tier programs at Stanford University, University of Massachusetts, and UCLA. Our interns have co-authored more than 30 publications as a result on their research they completed while in the program. As such it is certainly the case that our program has directly and indirectly contributed to and strengthened the future of stem cell research in California. The very many benefits that this program has brought to the Inland Empire area in Southern California can be summarized by a brief note received by the director from a CIRM Bridges intern who is completing her third year in graduate school:
“Hope your Friday is going well. I wanted to say “Hi” and let you know that recently I worked with the career development center at my school and organized an event called “Life After the PhD”. The event was part of the graduate school reunion event. We invited alumni from different career paths, which allowed students learn about careers in academia, industry, regulatory affairs, patent law etc.
Organizing this event reminded me of the time when we organized the annual symposium for IESCC consortium. Thank you for pushing me during that time to break out of my comfort zone – this time I already knew what to be aware of. We had a great event and I am planning to take more responsibility next year. How’s everything going at CSUSB? I see so many success stories through CIRM – it’s incredible!