First stem cell trainees announced

Stanford has selected the first 16 scholars who will receive training funds from a California Institute for Regenerative Medicine grant. The grant awardees come from 11 departments in the schools of medicine and of engineering.

"I'm delighted that we picked people from a variety of backgrounds and departments," said Michael Longaker, MD, professor of surgery and chair of the advisory committee for Stanford's Program in Regenerative Medicine. one goal of the program is to eventually bring in people from all seven Stanford schools as grant recipients or mentors.

Last fall, Stanford was one of 16 universities to receive the initial batch of CIRM training grants. Stanford's grant, totaling $3.7 million over three years, will fund:

  • Six graduate and medical students: Christopher Arnold, Branden Cord, Erik Huntzicker, Megan Insco, John Mich and Alyssa Wright.
  • Five MD postdocs: Tze-Ming (Benson) Chen, Piero Dalerba, Atul Kumar, Akifumi Ootani and Li-Ping Wang.
  • Five PhD postdocs: Joanne Attema, Matthew Inlay, Kinuko Masaki, Derrick Rossi and Yi (Arial) Zeng.
  • These 16 scholars will join nine trainees who are already receiving money through the National Institutes of Health to study regenerative medicine. These 25 students will participate in an interdisciplinary training program guided by a mentor and co-mentor, each from different departments. The trainees will attend lab meetings with their co-mentor while conducting research with their primary mentor. "We would love to have a basic scientist and a physician scientist for each trainee," Longaker said.

    The program aims to ensure that the regenerative medicine research be clinically useful, Longaker said. To that end, the trainees will spend time in medical clinics learning about the unmet needs in the clinical area most relevant to their research. They will also do coursework in ethics, regenerative medicine and basic stem cell biology.

    The program's emphasis in diverse training and clinical immersion, combined with Stanford's interdisciplinary strength, helped earn Stanford the top spot among the CIRM training grant recipients.

    CIRM was created in 2004 after California votes approved Proposition 71, which provides $3 billion over the next 10 years to fund stem cell research, training and facilities in California. Although the funds are tied up in legal disputes, CIRM raised money to fund 170 scholars through private philanthropic organizations. That money will be repaid when the legal situation is resolved.