Through our new Strategic Plan, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) will build inclusive participation opportunities for all stakeholders, from the students to the workforce to the patients.
That said, it’s important to recognize the important work CIRM has already done to train the next generation of scientists and grow the field of regenerative medicine. Alessandra’s story illustrates just one of the many ways we have done that in the past, and we intend to do even more in the future.
Gaining Exposure to Innovative Research
CIRM Scholar Alessandra Rodriguez y Baena was a Master’s student at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. With the support of CIRM’s Bridges Program, she became a CIRM intern in the Willert Lab at UC San Diego.
As a student researcher, CIRM provided her with supportive mentors (both at Cal Poly and UCSD), hands-on training in the field of regenerative medicine, and exposure to innovative ideas and research. The program also provided Alessandra with a stipend to help cover expenses. This was particularly helpful for students from low-income backgrounds who otherwise might not be able to afford to go to college.
“I always recommend my undergraduate students who are interested in research to apply to the Bridges programs because, to me, it was a defining experience that led me to pursue my passion for stem cell research as well as teaching,” Alessandra says.
Alessandra is now a fourth-year PhD student in the Forsberg Lab in the department of Molecular, Cell & Developmental Biology at UC Santa Cruz where she is studying the epigenetic regulation of aging in bone marrow stem cells.
In addition to Alessandra, CIRM has provided opportunities in science to nearly 3,000 students across California. These include high schoolers in our SPARK Program, as well as undergrads and graduate students in our Bridges Program and pre and post-doctoral students in our Research Training program. Many of these are from diverse backgrounds.
A Game Changer
Sneha Santosh, another CIRM Scholar, first heard about CIRM’s Bridges to Stem Cell Therapy and Research internship when she was graduating from the UC Davis. She was pursuing a degree in microbial biotechnology and thinking about getting a master’s degree in biotechnology. She said the opportunity to be part of a program that is training the next generation of scientists was a game changer for her.
Through the Bridges Program, she learned about stem cells’ power to treat a disease’s root cause rather than just the symptoms. She saw how these transformative therapies changed people’s lives.
Today, she is a cell culture associate with Novo Nordisk, a leading global healthcare company in Fremont, California
CIRM’s New Strategic Plan
Alessandra and Sneha’s stories capture CIRM’s commitment to building education and training programs, and providing opportunities to build a diverse, highly skilled regenerative medicine workforce. We’ll be covering this ambitious yet achievable goal in our upcoming blog posts.
To learn more about CIRM’s work and plans build the regenerative medicine field, check out our new 5-year strategic plan on our website.