The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) awarded a $2.96 million grant to Cal State Fullerton’s Bridges to Stem Cell Research program.
The program has been funded by CIRM since 2010 and accepts up to 10 students a year for training.
The training allows the students to work in a lab in preparation for a 12-month internship on stem cell research, said Nilay Patel, program director.
“There is a huge jump that a student sees from lecture classroom, to a lab classroom, to an independent research project,” Patel said. “We slowly transition them so they can work as independent researchers.”
Students spend seven months training on campus and working with different mentors as they complete research in various fields.
After training at CSUF, students go on to complete a yearlong internship at off-campus institutions such as UCI, Stanford, USC or City of Hope. The internships are paid, full-time positions, Patel said.
The Bridges to Stem Cell Research program saw an increase in funding this year due to extended internship requirements.
“We’ve gone from a 14-month program to a 20-month program” said Alison Miyamoto, the program’s internship coordinator.
In response to the extension, the Bridges to Stem Cell Research program has also developed a partnership with the Center for Internship and Community Engagement in order to set up “patient engagement activities,” Miyamoto said.
By participating in these activities, students will be able to get hands-on experience with people who could benefit from stem cell research, such as those who have Alzheimer’s disease, Miyamoto said.
Eight of the 46 graduates of the program have published research findings in peer-reviewed journals with their internship mentors.
“The program does a wonderful job at not only preparing students for a possible career in research, but also building a strong foundation in stem cell biology/regenerative medicine,” Aurianna Arabpour, CSUF Bridges to Stem Cell graduate, said via email.