Student stem cell researchers receive grant
September 9, 2009 6:37 PM
The tone in the Domingo lab was energetic as students filtered in to talk about a new grant awarded to the biology department, allowing a stem cell research program to begin this fall.
"All of the funds up to this point were for major research institutions and CSUs were prohibited from applying until this new program," said Prof. Carmen Domingo, who wrote the grant proposal.
The California Institute of Regenerative Medicine is an organization regulating stem cell research programs in California to ensure ethics are being applied and that the National Academies of Science guidelines are followed. CIRM's recent funding is intended to create programs that will train new researchers.
"They put a call out for proposals that would train a workforce at more junior levels, that would train students who reflect the diversity in the state of California, to become skilled in the techniques associated with stem cell research," Domingo said.
Domingo explains the importance of the program to the science field and how every human organ and muscle has stem cells that, if damaged by illness or injury, could be repaired if they can understand how to stimulate those cells.
"The idea is to take these cells that have the ability to give rise to any cell type of the adult and cure illnesses that in the past we haven't had any methods or treatments for," Domingo said.
SF State was one of 10 CSUs to receive funding from CIRM. The grant awarded $1.7 million dollars to SF State that will be used toward each student in the program for their second year as a researcher.
Jason Liu is one of 18 students accepted into the master's program this fall.
"My goals are to work in translation medicine and to bridge the research behind stem cells and its application for therapy. My grandmother had Parkinson's disease, so I am sort of aware of the potential that the science has for treating people," Liu said.
In 2004, a 59 percent majority vote by the people of California on Proposition 71 allowed the research to take place, when legal restraints across the country were making stem cell science difficult to pursue.
"I remain committed to advancing stem cell research in California, in the promise it holds for millions of our citizens who suffer from chronic diseases and injuries that could be helped as a result of stem cell research," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told CIRM.
This fall with be the first semester the stem cell master's program will be offered at SF State. The program is also in partnership with facilities at Stanford, UC Berkeley and the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, to name a few.
"In terms of the grant that was written for the CIRM program, it was purely for the sake of training. This program has opened up an opportunity. I've never seen grants like this and I believe that the faculty here deserves recognition for seeking these things in the first place," Liu said.
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