Today CIRM’s Bridges to Stem Cell Research students are meeting and greeting some of the state’s most notable stem cell scientists at their annual meeting in Burlingame, CA. For many of these undergraduate and masters-level students, it’s a opportunity they would never have had without CIRM’s Bridges internship program.
First established in 2009, the Bridges programs fund students at community colleges and California State schools to take stem cell classes and do internship projects in established stem cell research labs in industry or at University of California and other major university campuses. (This map shows the Bridges to Stem Cell Research programs in purple.) Given the expense of working with stem cells, students at these schools would likely never have had a chance to participate in this cutting edge research. And without that experience, these students would likely be shut out of careers in California’s growing stem cell industry.
Most of CIRM’s funding goes to people who either already have their M.D.s, Ph.D.s, or are well on their way down that path. What’s exciting to me about the Bridges program is that it reaches beyond the pool of people who would already have had careers in science — though perhaps not in stem cell science. The Bridges students I met while filming a video about the program were the first people in their families to go to college, or the first to even consider academic careers.
Here’s that video:
What we hear back from the directors of the programs is that many students are going on to get higher degrees, and others are being hired by the labs where they did internships. Given the competition for those jobs, that’s quite a compliment to the quality of the students.
We’ll be taking photos and shooting more footage for another video about the Bridges program today. Stay tuned for that video, and for more information about the work these students are doing. If there’s any specific information you want about the program or those students ask it here and we’ll get answers today at the meeting.