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UC Davis School of Medicine

UC Davis School of Medicine

NEWS | March 23, 2012

UC Davis Health System receives grant for teen internships in stem cell research

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.)

The state stem cell agency, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), has awarded a $264,000 grant to UC Davis Health System to support summer internships for high school students over the next three years. This grant is in partnership with the UC Davis Biotechnology Program.

The new grant expands internship opportunities for teens at the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures and other university sites in Sacramento and at laboratories in Davis. Each summer over the next three years, 10 students will be invited to work alongside scientists and research technicians in the university's stem cell laboratories. The program will enable promising students to gain college-level experience and potentially inspire them to pursue science degrees and careers.

The funding is part of CIRM's Creativity Awards program, an innovative effort to encourage young people to enter the field of stem cell biology and research. Calling innovation and creativity the keys to developing new therapies and cures, the high school program is part of the CIRM's overall effort to strengthen the pipeline of stem cell expertise in California and help fill biotech jobs and create the next generation of stem cell scientists.

Last year's intern Rex Reyes and mentor Karen Pepper © UC Regents
Last year's student intern Rex Reyes with his Institute for Regenerative Cures mentor, Karen Pepper, in the Sacramento stem cell laboratory.

"We piloted an intern program with four students last summer and it was an outstanding success," said Gerhard Bauer, who oversees UC Davis' Good Manufacturing Practice laboratory in Sacramento and will serve as the internship director. "Our interns not only worked on sophisticated stem cell research studies, they developed their own projects and were able to present them before a statewide panel of scientists at the end of the summer."

UC Davis will recruit interns through the popular Teen Biotech Challenge (TBC) project, which is led by Denneal Jamison-McClung and Judith A. Kjelstrom of the UC Davis Biotechnology Program. The project enables budding young scientists to gain and showcase their biotechnology skills and interests, and it serves an ideal launch pad for motivated teens who want to explore the range of research taking place in regenerative medicine. The TBC is one of the major efforts of the BioTech SYSTEM, a consortium to support K-12 STEM education within the greater Sacramento Valley. To learn more about the TBC project, visit http://teenbiotechchallenge.ucdavis.edu/index.html

"As an experienced scientist, it is inspiring to me to see such enthusiasm, talent and novel ideas in young people when they have an opportunity to work in one of our labs," said Jan Nolta, who directs the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures and the university's stem cell research program. "The students who will intern at UC Davis represent a very bright future for advancing science and achieving breakthrough discoveries, particularly, I hope, in the area of stem cell treatments and cures."

The UC Davis stem cell internship will provide modest stipends to each student, as well as assigning a mentor to oversee all aspects of the laboratory learning experience. Students can choose to work in one of more than 30 university laboratories that are involved in developing cutting-edge stem cell therapies for injury and disease.

Each intern will participate in a stem cell biology class and learn about stem cell techniques in the laboratory. They will also earn a training certificate in Good Manufacturing Practices, which is necessary for handling stem cells in clinical applications. At the end of each summer session, students will prepare and present scientific posters about their individual research projects at a statewide meeting of other interns, research scientists and CIRM officers.

UC Davis is playing a leading role in regenerative medicine, with nearly 150 scientists working on a variety of stem cell-related research projects at campus locations in both Davis and Sacramento. The UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures, a facility supported by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), opened in 2010 on the Sacramento campus. This $62 million facility is the university's hub for stem cell science. It includes Northern California's largest academic Good Manufacturing Practice laboratory, with state-of-the-art equipment and manufacturing rooms for cellular and gene therapies. UC Davis also has a Translational Human Embryonic Stem Cell Shared Research Facility in Davis and a collaborative partnership with the Institute for Pediatric Regenerative Medicine at Shriners Hospital for Children Northern California. All of the programs and facilities complement the university's Clinical and Translational Science Center, and focus on turning stem cells into cures. For more information, visit www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/stemcellresearch.