A three-year, $1.3 million “Bridges to Stem Cell Research” grant was approved by the governing board of the state’s stem cell agency, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) Thursday, March 12.
Beginning in the fall, Sacramento State and UC Davis will collaborate on a new 20-month graduate degree program focused on producing the next generation of stem cell scientists.
“The training provide by the two schools will produce skilled scientific and laboratory personnel who will fill the demand for laboratory managers, scientists and other research support professionals in a growing number of laboratories involved in stem cell research,” said Laurel G. Heffernan, associate dean and professor of biological sciences at Sacramento State.
Students will have three semesters of coursework at Sacramento State, and two semesters of a full-time internship at the nearby UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures, a facility supported by CIRM. There will also be a 40-hour Stem Cell Techniques training course at the Buck Institute for Age Research in Novato, Calif.
”Students will learn specialized techniques such as good manufacturing practices, adult and embryonic stem cell culture and scale-up production for cellular therapies, which will play an important role in advancing stem cell science and bringing new treatments to patients who need them.” said Jan Nolta, stem cell program director for UC Davis’ Institute for Regenerative Cures and a Sacramento State graduate.
Students will be full participants in the labs, generating data, presenting results at meetings and potentially contributing to scientific publications. Interns will work in labs focused on stem cell cures for currently untreatable neurodegenerative diseases, vascular disorders, liver failure, blindness, and other conditions.
CIRM is the voter-approved agency established by Proposition 71 in 2004 to provide $3 billion in funding for stem cell research in California. Apart from the March 12 awards, the CIRM committee has awarded 253 research grants totaling more than $635 million, making it the largest source of funding for embryonic and pluripotent stem cell research in the world.