The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has awarded USC $3 million to support a training program in stem cell biology.
The grant received formal approval from the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee, the 29-member governing board of the institute. The Training II award provides funding for a total of 16 positions in the program based at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
The future of regenerative medicine depends on training a new generation of leaders, said Martin Pera, professor and founding director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC.
“We are delighted to learn that CIRM has decided to support this important program,” Pera said. “This award will enable our growing team of investigators in regenerative medicine here at the Keck School of Medicine to attract the best young minds to the field, at the graduate and postgraduate level.”
The grant will support six predoctoral fellows, eight postdoctoral fellows and two clinical fellows for two years.
During this time, participants will conduct research with faculty mentors, take courses in stem cell biology, stem cell ethics and other associated topics, present their work at combined stem cell biology/developmental biology research forums and attend a yearly retreat. Recruitment for the positions will begin immediately.
The governing board awarded a total of $11 million for two grants in the Training II program and five grants in the Bridges program, which funds coursework and internships to prepare undergraduates and masters-level students for careers in stem cell laboratories.
In January, these grants had been recommended by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine Scientific and Medical Research Funding Working Group for funding. With improvements in the state’s bond situation, the board chose to reconsider the grants in order to bolster successful programs training the next generation of stem cell scientists and laboratory staff.
“Training is critical to our mission of developing new therapies,” said Robert Klein, chair of the governing board. “During a time when the state is having to cut funding to higher education, our agency is bridging part of the gap, ensuring that highly qualified students receive the training they need to fill the high-tech stem cell research jobs of the future.”
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine was established when voters passed Proposition 71 in 2004 to borrow and spend $3 billion over 10 years to support stem cell research.
To date, USC faculty members working at the two main campuses and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles have secured $85.3 million in funding, ranking fourth among California institutions in California Institute for Regenerative Medicine funding received.