Meshing a passion for medicine with stem cell research

Kevin Brown is an adventurer at heart. He was a pre-med student when he found a unique way to combine his passion for medicine in neuroscience with his natural inclination to explore and discover through scientific research.

A 2022 graduate of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine’s (CIRM) Bridges to Stem Cell Research and Therapy Program, Kevin says the experience was a great opportunity to mesh his passion for medicine with his instinct for research in the stem cell/regenerative medicine field.

“I recognized the vital importance of having basic scientific training and thinking skills in relationship to being a good physician,” Kevin said, noting that these factors inspired him to apply to the Bridges program.

Started in 2009, the CIRM Bridges program provides paid regenerative medicine and stem cell research internships to students at universities and colleges that don’t have major stem cell research programs. Each Bridges internship includes thorough hands-on training and education in regenerative medicine and stem cell research, and direct patient engagement and outreach activities that engage California’s diverse communities. 

A Growing Field with Many Opportunities

Kevin recognizes that regenerative medicine is a growing field that offers great opportunity for exploration and discovery. It also is likely to have a strong impact on patient care in the field of neuroscience and many other areas of human health. Participating in the program has helped Kevin find a career path that excites both his passions for exploration and for patient care.

During his time in the Bridges program, Kevin attended California State University, San Marcos and he completed his program training at the Dorris Neuroscience Center at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego.

“Medicine was all that was on my mind but as I got deeper into my research I fell more and more in love with the process of science and began seeing myself as a leader in this field in the future,” Kevin said. “I am now considering taking the MD-PhD path to satisfy both my yearning to leave a positive impact on the world through healthcare and continue venturing through the unknowns to hopefully create meaningful breakthroughs in science in the future.”

He credits his mentors—graduate student Anna Verduzco and principal investigator Dr. Hollis Cline—for helping him discover his future career path. The program and his mentors, he said, have made him a better student, a better scientist, and a better person overall.

“They helped mold the way that I approach scientific and life problems—curiosity at the forefront followed by openness to try something new.”

Overcoming Challenges

Kevin said one challenge of the internship was learning how to think, write, and communicate scientifically.

“The conventional way of learning and thinking in school is vastly different than the scientific way of thought,” Kevin said. “However, my lab partners were extremely helpful in helping me cultivate these skills by having me consistently talking through my experiments with them, do periodic write-ups on my progress, and give lab meeting presentations.”

Kevin clearly was an apt student of these lessons because at the conclusion of his internship, he offered a poster presentation at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists and won the 2022 Outstanding Presentation Award.

Paying It Forward

Today, Kevin is a full-time student at CSU San Marcos completing his Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in Physiology. He is still a part-time research intern at The Scripps Research Institute in the Cline lab working toward understanding how stem cell derived brain cells can be used to study the intricacies of Alzheimer’s Disease in a genetic and cell-signaling context.

And he’s paying it forward for other students. “I am building a mentoring network to provide CIRM’s SPARK high school program interns with the necessary help and tools to transition into their college career feeling empowered and confident in their ability to succeed.”

Image courtesy The Cline Lab

He offers important advice regarding the field of stem cell and regenerative medicine research, and strong words for future explorers everywhere: be courageous, adaptable, and resilient.

“A lot of the work being done, especially within the context of regenerative medicine and neuroscience, has never been done before,” he said, noting that young pioneers in this space should be creative in their approach and not easily dissuaded by failure.

Kevin urges more people to become pioneers.

He adds, “Stem cell research is vital to the development of understanding how we can address the vast amount of diseases and conditions that impact humans.”

About the Bridges Program

The Bridges program is proud to claim 1,735 Bridges alumni, and more Bridges trainees are completing their internships in 2023. CIRM has 15 active Bridges programs throughout California, each with its own eligibility criteria and application process.

If you are interested in applying, please visit this web page for more details about each program. If you have questions about the Bridges program, please email the CIRM Bridges director, Dr. Kelly Shepard at 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.