$1.5 Million Grant Advances Stem Cell Research on Campus

$1.5 Million Grant Advances Stem Cell Research on Campus
The stem stem cell program will many disciplines, from biology to chemistry to engineering.

Cal Poly Pomona has received nearly $1.5 million to provide students opportunities to learn about the latest advances in stem cell biology. The funding will expand stem cell courses for both undergraduates and graduates and will create research-intensive internship opportunities for advanced students.

“California is a pioneer in stem cell biology and Cal Poly Pomona faculty contribute to this forefront of biomedical research,” said Dr. Donald Straney, dean of the College of Science. “This grant will give our students the unusual opportunity to learn the latest developments in stem cell biology from the scientists making the discoveries. These students will have a head start toward the new careers that stem cell technology will create.”

The university will collaborate with Cal State Los Angeles in developing curriculum and promoting faculty and student interactions. Both universities are well-suited in this partnership as both campuses have focused on developing cutting-edge molecular and cell biology curriculum.

Students will learn all aspects of stem cells, from creation to differentiation to clinical application. With a multidisciplinary approach, the stem cell education program will incorporate biology, chemistry, bioinformatics and engineering. The university will introduce new courses, such as tissue culture, molecular and cell biology, and immunology.

Each year, the internship program will select five students from each campus who have completed at least three upper-division courses. The internships, six months for undergraduate students and 12 months for master's, will be at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, City of Hope in Duarte, The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla and the University of Southern California.

Cal Poly Pomona's award is part of a $16 million, 11-CSU campus initiative to study stem cell technology and advance the field of regenerative medicine. The Bridges to Stem Cell Research Awards will facilitate instruction, laboratory work, internship placement, faculty mentoring and career guidance. Other campuses receiving funding are: Channel Islands, Humboldt, Long Beach, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jos, San Luis Obispo and San Marcos.

“CSU campuses are the training grounds for the scientists and professionals who fuel California's knowledge-based economy,” CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed said. “These grants will allow the university to take the next step into an exciting and rapidly expanding area of biotechnology.”

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), which oversees the Bridge Awards, is the state agency created to distribute nearly $3 billion in bond funding approved by the passage of Proposition 71 in 2004. CIRM is the largest source of funding for human embryonic and multi-use stem cell research.

“The voters have given California a commanding lead when it comes to groundbreaking stem cell research,” said Susan Baxter, executive director of the CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB). “With the latest action on stem cells by President Obama, we are well positioned as a state to lead the world in unlocking the use of stem cells to develop new technologies and products for regenerative medicine.”