Funding opportunities

Curriculum Development and Implementation of Stem Cell Technology and Laboratory Management Emphasis in an Established MS Biotechnology and Bioinformatics Program at California State University Channel Islands and Co-development of a GE Course on Stem Cel

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Funds requested: 
$1 733 406
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Grant approved: 
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Statement of Benefit to California: 
Review Summary: 
This proposal seeks a Bridges Award to add a Stem Cell Technology and Laboratory Management Emphasis to an established Masters of Science program focused on biotechnology and bioinformatics. The applicant proposes to create 30 internships using Bridges funds and an additional 15 internships will be established using home institution funds. One-year long internships will include participation in original research projects in stem cell research labs at 4 academic and one for-profit institution, and the applicant is in the process of obtaining approval to establish internships at a prominent biotechnology company. Interns participating in the Bridges program will have meetings at quarterly intervals with the host internship coordinators, internship mentors, home institution faculty co-mentors and advisory committee. A written report is required at the end of the internship as well as an oral presentation at a colloquium. The educational component of the program will include nine existing courses in the MS degree program, 4 new focused courses will be developed at the home institution, and prior to their internship, students will take the intensive human embryonic stem cell training course provided at one of the host institutions. In addition, a general education course in stem cell technology and its social, legal and ethical issues will be developed in collaboration with three community colleges. It is anticipated that more than 1000 students will take the course over the 3-year funding period of the award. Reviewers were very enthusiastic about this proposal. The existing MS program was only recently implemented and has an impressive track record, having already graduated 36 students all of whom have entered the biomedical/biotechnology field. The proposed new Bridges program, as described to the current students in the MS program, appears to be very popular, as 25% of the current 125 students have expressed a strong interest. Reviewers judged the proposed new and existing courses as being very strong, although one reviewer felt that it was unclear how the general education course would integrate with the overall program. The duration of the internship (one year) is a significant strength of the program as it acknowledges the difficulty of working with stem cells, thus giving the trainee an opportunity not only to learn the techniques but also to apply them toward some tangible, productive end. Mechanisms for the recruitment of qualified program participants, for matching interns with host labs and for tracking trainee accomplishment are well defined in this application. A particular strength is the Internship Agreement between the intern and mentors, which will describe the project and learning objectives for the internship and will serve as the basis for quarterly progress reports by the intern. Another strength of the program is a good selection of specified internship opportunities. The widely different types of environments, including an industry setting, should enable students to find a laboratory setting that will suit their interests. However, reviewers criticized the lack of discussion on the logistics of trainee travel/relocation for the internships, the omission of an internship program for undergraduates, and the absence of a plan to increase representation in the program of California’s diverse cultural population. The institutional support for this program is exceptionally strong. Although the track record of the home institution is not very deep, having been established less than 10 years ago, the institution has shown commitment to biotechnology and cell biology education, thus providing a supportive environment for preparing students for their internships. The President of the home institution provided a strong letter of support and the reviewers appreciated that he/she committed to supporting five additional MS interns in each of the three years of CIRM funding. In addition, reviewers praised the fact that all but one of the proposed partnering arrangements have been finalized, although one reviewer felt that the pending agreement would add significant value. One of the hosts for the Bridges program has recently hired a graduate of the current MS program, attesting to the quality of that program.

© 2013 California Institute for Regenerative Medicine