Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine

Training and Course Requirements

Formal Training

All CIRM scholars will participate in a unified training program, in which basic science and clinical fellow trainees and mentors will learn together. Pre-doctoral scholars will initially follow the curriculum of their Department/degree granting program (Developmental Biology, Biochemistry, Bioengineering, etc., or the required medical school curriculum for pre-doctoral MD scholars) bringing this knowledge to the CIRM training program activities. In addition to their Departmental/degree core curriculum, ALL CIRM Scholars, including post-doctoral, PhD and clinical fellows will take the required stem cell courses below.

Required Courses and Activities

  1. The Responsible Conduct of Research (MED 255). This course is designed to engage participants in productive discussions about ethical issues commonly encountered during their research careers. Participants are introduced to methods of analysis and policies and regulations relevant to the conduct of biomedical research.
  2. Stem Cells and Translational Medicine (STEMREM 202).  Embryonic and adult stem cells, including origin, regulation, self-renewal, differentiation, fate, and relationship to cancer; biological mechanisms and methods to translate findings to therapeutic applications. Medical students must enroll for 5 units; graduate students may choose to take only the basic science part for 3 units.  Prerequisites: DBIO 201 and 210, or consent of instructor.
  3. hESC Laboratory Course (STEMREM 200 Stem Cell Intensive). A one week, hands-on laboratory course. Class participants will learn basic hESC culture, including growth, passaging, freezing, and differentiation. they will also obtain a protocol handout and assistance in designing hESC experiments (if applicable).
  4. Regenerative Medicine Seminar Series (STEMREM 250). A forum for Stanford researchers to meet, hear about what is going on in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at Stanford, and spark collaborations. Topics include all areas of regenerative medicine, broadly defined, ranging from fundamental biological principles and basic science advances to novel applications in biotechnology, stem cell biology, and human disease.
  5. Clinical Immersion Rotation – required for Pre- and Post-doctoral PhD trainees (STEMREM 203). This medical immersion will provide non-medical CIRM Scholars an understanding of the unique considerations necessary to translate basic research to the clinical setting. Pre- and postdoctoral Ph.D. CIRM Scholars will acquire a basic knowledge of the clinical discipline most directly related to the trainee’s research focus. A period of directed reading will be followed by a two week clinical rotation during which the trainee will shadow clinical attending surgeons, physicians, residents, and fellows. The Program Director will monitor trainee progress closely, developing an overall outline of what the trainee should learn during their immersion and discussing the plan with the trainee prior to the rotation. In addition, the Program Director will meet with each trainee at the end of the first week to review their experience, modifying the second week’s activities as needed. Finally, the Program Director will meet with the trainee at the completion of the rotation to review the experience.
  6. Quarterly Training Meetings. Quarterly, the trainees convene with the Program Director to discuss their educational experience. The current format is that four to five trainees volunteer to present a 15 minute overview of their research followed by a discussion amongst themselves. Dr. Palmer usually attends the meeting as well.
  7. Mentor & Co-Mentor Meetings. All Scholars who have chosen a Mentor and Co-Mentor. Scholars are expected to meet with their mentors and co-mentors on a regular basis and attend their respective group meetings. The concept behind this educational opportunity is that the trainee will be exposed to two different, yet complementary, disciplines and perspectives. In some circumstances, the collaborations are extensive and the co-mentor plays an equally important role in the education of the trainee as does the mentor. Whenever possible, if the trainee has a basic science mentor, we encourage a physician-scientist as a co-mentor.

Optional Courses and Activities

CIRM Scholars may take these based on interest and research need.

  1. Medical Ethics I (PEDS 251A).  The field of bioethics, including theoretical approaches to bioethical problems. Contemporary controversies and clinical cases. Values that arise in different situations and clinical encounters. Issues include: genetics and stem cell research, rationing, ethical issues in care at the end of life, organ transplantation issues.
  2. Analysis of Costs, Risks, and Benefits of Health Care (HRP 392/BIOMEDIN 432/MGTECON 332) How to do cost/benefit analysis when the output is difficult or impossible to measure. How do M.B.A. analytic tools apply in health services? Literature on the principles of cost/benefit analysis applied to health care. Critical review of actual studies. Emphasis is on the art of practical application.
  3. Biotechnology Law and Policy (HRP 220/LAW 440). Focuses on the biotechnology industry, with some discussion of the "med tech" or medical device industry and the pharmaceutical industry. The life cycle of a biotech firm, from a good idea to a start-up company to FDA approval and beyond. Guest speakers. In addition to a final exam, students are required to participate in a group project during the term, making law and business recommendations about a biotech firm.
  4. Law and the Biosciences (HRP 211/Law 368).  Legal, social, and ethical issues arising from advances in the biosciences. Focus is on human genetics; also advances in assisted reproduction and neuroscience. Topics include forensic use of DNA, genetic testing, genetic discrimination, eugenics, cloning, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, neuroscientific methods of lie detection, and genetic or neuroscience enhancement.
  5. Advanced Human Embryology and Reprogramming. This course was added to the options in 2008. It is a sequel to the Basic hESC Laboratory Course and focuses on fundamentals of human embryology, and derivation of hESC lines through classical and alternative means. A parallel course in neural differentiation is also in the planning stages and was offered in 2009.
  6. Masters of Medicine Program. Independent but complementary to the clinical immersion is Dr. Ben Barres' novel program for Stanford PhD trainees called the "Masters of Medicine" (MOM) Program ( The MOM program is a master's degree program that will provide PhD candidates serious exposure to clinical medicine with a view to fostering translational research. The incredible pace of basic science discovery today stands in dramatic contrast to the slow rate of development of useful medical advances. There is urgent need for a more efficient mechanism to generate a larger pool of scientists knowledgeable about human biology and disease. The goal of the MOM program is to train a new generation of PhD students in human biology and disease and who are thus more able to translate new scientific discoveries into useful medical advances. As a result of their experience in the clinical immersion, some CIRM scholars have been part of or have applied to the MOM program. It is our philosophy that cross-training PhD students to provide an understanding of clinical medicine will substantially improve their educational experience and understanding of translational research strategies.
  7. Stem Cells and Human Development: From Embryo to Cell Lineage Determination (STEMREM 201A) Offers didactic lectures focused on human developmental biology, derivation of pluripotent stem cells, cell sorting, genomics, bioinformatics, imaging and other related topics. Provides the educational foundation and social group building within each first-year class of STEMREM graduate students. Students enrolling for 1 unit attend all lectures; students enrolling for 2 units attend all lectures and discussion sections.
  8. Stem Cells and Human Development Laboratory (STEMREM 201B) Focus is on human development from embryo to cell lineage determination. Emphasis is on human developmental biology, derivation of pluripotent stem cells, cell sorting, genomics, bioinformatics, imaging and other related topics. Comprehensive laboratory-based instruction focused on human developmental biology, derivation of pluripotent stem cells, cell sorting, genomics, bioinformatics, imaging and other related topics. Provides hands-on skills development within each first-year class of STEMREM graduate students. Must be taken concurrently with STEMREM 201A.


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