Cal Poly Pomona has received a three-year, $1.5 million grant renewal for stem cell education and research from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). Building upon a previous $1.5 million grant, the award will increase opportunities for both science and non-science majors to learn about stem cells in their coursework, and will also continue to offer intensive research internship experiences for highly qualified biology students.
“CIRM is on the cutting edge of research. This grant is really going to continue to grow biotechnology at Cal Poly Pomona,” says Professor Jill Adler-Moore, who directs the Bridges to Stem Cell Research Training Program.
CIRM, a state agency established by Prop 71 in 2004, furthers stem cell research and research facilities through grants and loans to California universities and research institutions. The biomedical research focuses on developing diagnostics and therapies that will lead to life-saving medical treatments.
Through the grant, master’s student Kenna Schnarr began interning at the City of Hope and studies how neural stem cells may be used to treat invasive and metastatic breast cancer. Working in Dr. Karen Aboody’s lab, Schnarr employs a new treatment strategy that uses neural stem cells to selectively deliver gold nanoparticles to the tumor sites and destroy the tumors with heat using near-IR laser light.
Not only is she getting hands-on research experience with real-world implications, Schnarr has also been given many exciting opportunities, including an invitation to present her work in Japan at the International Society for Stem Cell Research conference in June.
“Because of CIRM, I have acquired a wealth of knowledge regarding stem cell and cancer biology, met leading researchers and physicians, formed many bonds and networks for future prospects, and been given the opportunity to see, do, and be a part of some remarkable science,” says Schnarr, who enters medical school in August at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. “I feel like I’m one of the luckiest CIRM interns.”
The CIRM grant is a partnership between Cal Poly Pomona and Cal State Los Angeles. Each campus selects five students a year for CIRM internships while developing stem cell curriculum and promoting cross-campus faculty and student interactions.
At Cal Poly Pomona, stem cell biologist Professor Ansel Zhao has developed two stem cell courses, one for upper-division students and one for graduate students. In addition, the grant has supported the development of stem cell relevant curriculum for general biology courses for both science and non-science majors. It has also funded a seminar series of CIRM researchers from across California who discuss their research with faculty and students at both Cal Poly Pomona and Cal State L.A.
To learn more about the Bridges to Stem Cell Research Training Program, visit www.cpp.edu/stemcellbridges.
(Photo: Kenna Schnarr, a biology master’s student, is an intern at the City of Hope in Duarte.)