Two CSULB professors were awarded a grant for more than $1.3 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) in support of stem cell research, which will allow students to participate in stem cell research in California and in the translation of this technology to regenerative medicine options for patients. The award is part of CIRM’s Bridges to Stem Cell Research program.
The CSULB proposal was ranked first of all Bridges proposals submitted to CIRM. “Particularly in light of the current budget crisis, the high rank ensured that if any students were to benefit from CIRM funding, it would be CSULB students,” said Lisa Klig, professor of biological sciences and director of the CSULB Certificate Program in Biotechnology. “The subsequent funding of this program was even more exciting as it creates opportunities for CSULB students and the state of California and supports the progress of stem cell research.”
Klig, who co-authored the grant with Elizabeth Eldon, associate professor of biological science, said the CSULB program has three goals—educating the public about the medical, biological and technological advances of stem cell research and recruiting new scientists into the workforce; training students in the theory and techniques of stem cell research; and retaining these trainees in the California workforce by providing specialized training and laboratory internships which will lead to long-term career opportunities in stem cell research in California.
CSULB is one of 10 CSU campuses to share in nearly $16 million derived from almost $3 billion in bond funding approved by California voters in 2004 with the passage of Proposition 71. To educate the public about stem cells, CSULB will also work with Irvine Valley College to develop a general education course that will serve as a bridge to the university’s stem cell studies as well as add information on stem cell research to the university’s “Introduction to Human Diseases” general education course.
“The California stem cell research workforce will be enhanced by recruiting CSULB students to enter a new two-year stem cell training option that will be added to an existing Biotechnology Certificate Program,” Klig explained. The first year of training at CSULB includes new courses in stem cell biology, bioethics and public policy, and a stem cell tissue culture laboratory, taught at both CSULB and the Children’s Hospital of Orange County. During the second year, students will complete internships in stem cell laboratories at either the City of Hope or UC Irvine.
“We are pleased that CIRM is funding Bridges to Stem Cell Research awards and very excited to be among the eleven programs funded in this first year,” said Laura Kingsford, dean of CSULB’s College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. “Stem cell research is critically important to the future of healthcare and treatment of major diseases. Thus, with changes now occurring at the state and federal levels in stem cell research, it is great to be a part of what’s happening. The Bridges award will allow us to develop an outstanding training program to meet the needs of our students and to help California become the leader in stem cell research and applications.”