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CSU Channel Islands Awarded $1.86 Million Stem Cell Research Training Grant

Funding will support 45 graduate students enrolled in the master’s program for biotechnology and bioinformatics

CSU Channel Islands recently won a $1.86 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to help prepare graduate students for careers in stem cell research.

The CIRM Bridges to Stem Cell Research Training Grant will support research training for 45 graduate students enrolled in the master’s program for biotechnology and bioinformatics with an emphasis in stem cell technology and laboratory management. CI is one of 16 universities and colleges statewide to receive funding through the CIRM Bridges program.

Dr. Ching-Hua Wang, director of the graduate program in biotechnology and bioinformatics, sought and obtained the grant.

“This will provide a tremendous boost to our graduate students’ pursuit of their scientific careers,” Wang said. “This grant gives them financial support to complete internships with some world-renowned institutions, so they enter the work force well-prepared to succeed in a rapidly-advancing and critically needed field.”

The grant allows students in their second year of study to pursue yearlong internships with one of more than 50 research laboratories at 10 research institutions that are working to advance stem cell research and develop new therapies for chronic disease and injury. CI students have participated in research to treat problems ranging from Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and cancer to heart attack, macular degeneration, and spinal cord injuries at institutions including USC, UCLA, UCSB, UC Berkeley, the Scripps Research Institute, the City of Hope Beckman Research Institute and Amgen.

Each CIRM-funded student will receive a $37,750 scholarship, internship stipend and travel fund. Additionally, each lab that provides an internship will receive $4,000 per student for research mentorship and supplies. A research institution that offers the students an advanced training course will receive $2,500 per student.

This is the second CIRM Bridges grant awarded to CI and Wang. The first, a $1.75 million grant in 2009, is helping 40 students pursue their internship and career goals. All the CIRM-funded graduates of the program’s first class in 2010 found jobs at research institutions and biotechnology companies or enrolled in doctoral programs upon graduation.

CI offers the only graduate degree program in biotechnology and bioinformatics with an emphasis in stem cell technology and lab management in the CSU system. Students receive a well-rounded professional program that combines science and business with theories and practical skills, allowing them to transition easily to the work force.

CIRM was established in 2004 after Californians passed Proposition 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative. The mission of CIRM is to support and advance stem cell research and regenerative medicine under the highest ethical and medical standards for the discovery and development of cures, therapies, diagnostics and research technologies to relieve human suffering from chronic disease and injury.

For more information about the CIRM grant or the master’s in biotechnology and bioinformatics program, contact Wang at 805.437.8870 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

— Nancy Gill is the director of communication and marketing for CSU Channel Islands.

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