Wednesday, October 01, 2014

California's 'Bridges' Stem Cell Effort Hailed Again

CIRM video
California’s $18 million “Bridges” stem cell training program this week received another endorsement as a “spectacularly successful” effort that is key to supporting stem cell research in California.

UC Davis stem cell scientist Paul Knoepfler said on his blog that it would be “counterproductive” to end the program, which is facing competition for funds as the state’s $3 billion stem cell agency focuses more on pushing research into the clinic instead of training efforts.

The Bridges program involves students from 11 of California’s two-year community colleges and four-year state colleges not associated with the University of California. The idea was to offer an opportunity for persons in those schools to be involved in stem cell research, learn skills and find jobs in the business.

Knoepfler said,
“As a faculty member at UC Davis, I have seen first hand just how powerful the Bridges program has been and continues to be. I have trained and continue to train Bridges students. I have been incredibly impressed with their intellect, energy, and the sheer overall amount they have to contribute to stem cell research in California. The sky is the limit with these young scientists.”
Jeanne Loring, head of the stem cell program at Scripps, also endorsed the program in a comment at the end of this item on the California Stem Cell Report and on Knoepfler’s blog. She said,
“I think it's a tragic loss to mothball the equipment and shut down the training labs just when work in those labs is leading to the cures that are CIRM's mission. Some of our best-trained stem cell researchers are losing their jobs, just when they are most needed.”
One person, Li You Hu, who filed a comment on Knoepfler’s item posted this question,
“Perhaps this can be justified as a continuing effort to train more people for stem cell research, but where is the quantitative justification based on those who have already been trained?”
Loring replied,
“Every one of the more than 20 Bridges interns that have worked in my lab are either in graduate school or have jobs as technicians.”

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