Thursday, October 23, 2014

More than $9 Million Approved for California Stem Cell Training Programs

Directors of the California stem cell agency today approved $9 million to continue its state and community college training program after supporters  hailed it as “truly transformative” and a valuable addition to the research field.

The agency extended the "Bridges" effort for one year, which has cost the state $51 million already. The college program has trained 782 young people.

The agency also approved $550,000 for a one-year extension of its high school internship program, which has involved 200 persons over the years.

The actions came despite increasing financial sensitivity on the part of directors of the $3 billion research enterprise as the program nears its 10th anniversary. It faces increasing expenses because of its desire to become more heavily involved in the costly clinical trials that are needed to actual put stem cell treatments into the clinic. Its cash is dwindling at the same time.

Susan Fisher, director of the human embryonic stem cell program at UC San Francisco, told the board in a letter that the state college training program  “offers unprecedented value in terms of the dollars that are spent.”

She said,
“It is very hard for me to put into words the transformative experience that the Bridges Program provides to trainees. They enter UCSF very uncertain of their place in a major research enterprise. To a person, they leave with boundless enthusiasm for a career dedicated to advancing the goals of the CIRM research agenda. Moreover, this life-changing experience is being offered to students who have traditionally not had these sorts of opportunities, making the program even more valuable.”

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