Developing healing therapies derived from stem cells—body cells that can grow into a variety of other tissues—is an increasing emphasis in modern healthcare research and businesses.
As a result, labs and companies need scientists who understand the field, so in 2009, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the state’s stem cell research agency, awarded $1.35 million to California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) as one of 11 additional educational institutions to prepare student interns for careers in stem cell research and biomedicine.
The caliber of the interns, selected from students in the stem cell option of CSULB’s Biotechnology Certificate program, pleased CIRM officials enough to result in a three-year, $1,686,998 grant renewal. The new funding will support three additional cohorts of up to 10 students each year beginning this summer through spring 2015.
“The purpose is to train professionals to work on research to find medical cures through stem cells, which also will help the California economy,” said Lisa Klig, professor of biological sciences who directs the biotechnology certificate program. Thus far, 20 interns have completed the program, and another 10 are working in labs this academic year.
“Past students have had a 100 percent success rate being placed in jobs or in graduate school or medical school,” Klig said.
With the latest grant, the newest group of CSULB interns will be selected this spring, adding a second year to their one-year biotechnology certificate program. They begin with a summertime specialized stem cell course at Children’s Hospital of Orange County, followed by the 10-month, full-time internship either at UC Irvine’s Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center or at City of Hope in Duarte. Interns receive $25,750 to cover tuition, fees and a living expenses stipend for the 10 months.