Specialty in Stem Cell Biology

Specialty in Stem Cell Biology

Funding Type: 
Bridges
Grant Number: 
TB1-01197
Award Value: 
$2,275,709
Status: 
Active
Public Abstract: 
This Bridges to Stem Cell Proposal will prepare community college students, particularly members of racial and ethnic minorities underrepresented in the health sciences, to obtain positions in the field of stem cell research by providing them with hands-on laboratory experience as well as academic instruction. A second purpose is to encourage students to pursue careers as stem cell scientists and thus, continue their education until they have obtained the required advanced degree. Selected students will serve an internship in a collaborating laboratory and will have the opportunity to work alongside scientists and technicians as they proceed through their experiments. Along with honing their laboratory skills, students will develop critical thinking skills and confidence in their ability to work in today’s world of biological science, which can be daunting when viewed from the outside. Students will earn a special certificate that will require that they complete advanced training in working with stem cells and participate in a course devoted to the scientific, ethical and legal aspects of stem cell research, along with their internship. Students will have the opportunity to participate in a myriad of seminars and workshops in stem cell research offered by the host laboratory. To encourage students to share their experiences with others, they will be invited as guest lecturers in a number of the biology and biotechnology classes offered by local colleges so that they can educate and inspire other students in this new and exciting field of biological research. Well-trained laboratory technicians are critical to the success of all research laboratories. This proposal will support training students to work in stem cell research laboratories and encourage them to pursue careers as stem cell scientists.
Statement of Benefit to California: 
Developing and maintaining leadership in the field of stem cell research requires a critical mass of exceptional scientists, adequate resources, laboratories equipped with the latest specialized technology required for stem cell research, and a large pool of laboratory technicians trained in stem cell research techniques. Stem cell research requires specialized skills and knowledge that is not normally taught in biotechnology programs, especially in community colleges. The proposed Bridges to Stem Cell research will benefit the State of California by providing skilled technicians to work in the field of stem cell biology. Importantly, this proposal will encourage and prepare students from non-traditional and underrepresented backgrounds to participate in the science of stem cell biology and to consider completing degrees at four-year colleges as well as pursue advanced degrees in order to become stem cell researchers. The proposal will also ensure that students are well versed in the many legal, ethical, and social issues surrounding stem cell research so that Californians from all races and ethnic communities as well as from a wide range of socioeconomic groups will be able to participate in a meaningful way in the debate of how best to pursue stem cell research in California.
Progress Report: 

Year 1

As a recipient of a CIRM bridges Award, Berkeley City College has been able to upgrade the training for students enrolled in the biotechnology classes and to offer special training in stem cell biology for selected students. The training in biotechnology includes coursework and laboratory experimentation in molecular genetics, immunology, protein chemistry, tissue culture, advanced techniques and instrumentation. Students pursuing the Certificate in Stem Cell Biology first complete the above laboratory courses along with courses in bioethics and scientific writing, attend a weeklong intensive training in handling stem cells offered by the University of California, San Francisco, and complete a nine month paid internship in one of several universities and institutes in the Bay Area. Students are expected to complete an independent research project during their internship and present a poster at the CIRM Bridges Scientific Meeting. Thus far 17 students have completed internships, 2 students are in progress and 3 others are just starting. Of these 22 students, 10 intend to pursue graduate level research in some aspect of stem cell biology or regenerative medicine, 7 are pursuing careers in medicine, clinical science or an allied health field, 2 are pursuing careers in pharmacy and pharmaceutical research, and 3 are seeking positions as technicians in molecular based research labs. Two of the students have published papers in scientific journals of their CIRM funded research and several others will be included as authors in future publications. Students served by the Bridges award come from a broad range of educational backgrounds, ethnicities and ages. Some students are re-tooling following either the loss of a job or graduation from college with a desire to re-focus their training and education, while others are completing their first two years of college with plans to continue to a 4-year institution. CIRM interns have the opportunity to share their experiences with other students enrolled in science classes at Berkeley City College, as well as students enrolled in the biotechnology program, and this not only generates much enthusiasm among fellow students, but also contributes to public awareness of the on-going research in stem cell fields. The CIRM Bridges award has also given Berkeley City College the opportunity to launch a Science Seminar Series that highlights work conducted by scientists in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine along with scientists conducting research in other fields. The seminar series has been a resounding success attracting both high school and college students, as well as members of the community. The seminars have served to heighten the awareness of the importance of STEM fields, the future of medicine and medical treatments, and the importance of supporting stem cell research in California.

© 2013 California Institute for Regenerative Medicine