Funding opportunities

[REDACTED] CIRM Graduate Stem Cell Training Program

Funding Type: 
Bridges
Grant Number: 
TB1-01189
Funds requested: 
$1 293 340
Funding Recommendations: 
Not recommended
Grant approved: 
No
Public Abstract: 
Stem cells offer some of the most promising new opportunities for regenerative medicine, biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry. With the passage of proposition 71 and the creation of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine in 2005, California has become one of the world largest sponsors of stem cell research. However, as the academic research base broadens and industry begins to adopt the new technologies, the availability of a local skilled workforce in California will become a critical factor for this unique research support to be successful. As part of the effort to generate skilled personnel trained in the state of the art techniques required by stem cell research labs, [REDACTED] is partnering with the [REDACTED] to establish a CIRM-supported stem cell training program. This program will be integrated with our existing 2-year MS in Biological Sciences offered by [REDACTED] in collaboration with [REDACTED]. The two-year MS program will involve 10 trainees per year in 12 month-long research internships (20 graduates over 3 years). In the first year, the students will undertake a series of required lecture and laboratory courses covering diverse aspects of stem cell biology such as cell culture and biotechnology, policy and ethics, and clinical application, through our stem cell research program. The second year, students will be engaged in full-time research intensive internships in various stem cell laboratories at [REDACTED] CIRM-funded Shared Facility. This internship will provide the trainees with hands-on laboratory research training as well as a direct participation in stem cell and regenerative medicine research projects focused on age-related diseases. In addition, students will participate in a stem cell laboratory techniques course at the [REDACTED]. They will also have the opportunity to attend several auxiliary educational activities to augment the internship experience including workshops, journal clubs, weekly science seminars and annual conferences and retreats. The main purpose of this training program is to generate a core of highly skilled Master’s levels workforce who can use their skills in stem cell laboratories in both academia and industry immediately upon graduation. In addition [REDACTED] has long standing experience in providing educational opportunities to individuals representing diversity of California’s population. Therefore, this proposed program will provide the opportunity to train an ethnically, racially and socio-economically diverse population of students who do not otherwise have opportunities to take part in research focused on stem cells and regenerative medicine. This diverse skilled workforce will play essential roles in advancing research from basic discoveries, through translational approaches, clinical investigations and commercialization in California.
Statement of Benefit to California: 
Stem cells offer some of the most promising new opportunities for regenerative medicine, biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry. With the passage of proposition 71 and the creation of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine in 2005, California has become one of the world largest sponsors of stem cell research. However, as the academic research base broadens and industry begins to adopt the new technologies, the availability of a local skilled workforce in California will become a critical factor for this unique research support endeavor to be successful. As part of this effort to generate personnel trained in the state of the art techniques required by stem cell research labs, [REDACTED] (Home Institution) is partnering with [REDACTED] (Host Institution), to establish a CIRM-supported Stem Cell Research Internships and associated training activities for Master’s level students in the [REDACTED]. This two-year MS program will involve 10 trainees per year in 12 month-long research internships (20 graduates over 3 years). The main purpose of this training program is to generate a core of highly skilled Master’s levels workforce who can use their skills in stem cell laboratories in both academia and industry immediately upon graduation. In addition [REDACTED] has long standing experience in providing educational opportunities to individuals representing diversity of California’s population. Therefore, this proposed program will provide the opportunity to train an ethnically, racially and socio-economically diverse population of students who do not otherwise have opportunities to take part in research focused on stem cells and regenerative medicine. This diverse skilled workforce will play essential roles in advancing research from basic discoveries, through translational approaches, clinical investigations and commercialization in California. Through this training program, we also plan on training community college faculty and high school teachers in stem cell technology and provide them with transferable skills necessary to develop stem cell learning modules that can be integrated in existing and/or new classes in [REDACTED] educational institutions.
Review Summary: 
This Bridges Award application proposes a master’s level program to prepare a work force of skilled technical personnel for careers in academic or industry laboratories. The applicant proposes a 2-year training program with 10 students per year. The first year of training includes coursework to be conducted at the home institution, followed by internships at a highly regarded but small research institution. A written thesis is required, including an oral defense. The coursework that serves as the educational foundation for the program was not laid out in sufficient detail for reviewers, who were concerned that the coursework appeared to be largely co-opted from existing master’s level programs, rather than crafted around stem cell biology. Further, the application did not present a plan for integrating the coursework with the internships in a meaningful way. The choice of the major host institution for the practical laboratory work was a good one, but only 5 labs are available to the students because of the small size of the host institution, and reviewers considered these options too limited. The application made mention of other possible host labs at other institutions but there was not sufficient documentation in the application to determine any commitment on the part of other institutions to take students on. Only one letter of any depth was presented from the host institution, raising further concern about the commitment of the necessary players to the program. The program director is an assistant professor that had a productive post-doctoral fellowship, but has yet to establish as an independently funded investigator. Further, the program director showed no real record of training students at this level. The make-up of the advisory committee was satisfactory but also included some very inexperienced members, and so reviewers felt that the committee could not fully compensate for lack of training experience on the part of the program director. Trainee assessment was also considered sub-optimal since the program for assessment left doubts about whether good metrics for learning outcomes and tracking placement were included in the progress evaluations. The letter of support from the home institution did not describe the unique commitment of the institution to the Bridges program, but appeared to describe the internship program for Bridges as an extension of the ongoing MS in Biological Sciences program. Although the institutional letter of support described some percentage of FTE salary from the home dean’s office to participating faculty, the numbers of participating faculty were not clearly stated. Overall, the reviewers felt the letter did not give confidence that the institution was fully committed to this program. Overall, the application was considered weak because of the lack of stem cell- specific foundations in the curriculum, an inexperienced program director, and few options available for laboratory research rotations at the major collaborating outside institution. Taken together these concerns led reviewers to the conclusion that the stated goals of the program will not be achievable with the described program structure and leadership.
Conflicts: 

© 2013 California Institute for Regenerative Medicine