Ebony Flowers, a Bridges student at California State University, Long Beach, talks about her stem cell research with other students
“I had never done any work or research in a lab before this, but I loved it from the very first moment. It gives me hope that this is something I can do for the rest of my life.”For California State University, Long Beach student Ebony Flowers, an internship with the stem cell agency’s Bridges program was a life-changing experience. It introduced her to research in a world-class laboratory, and gave her a glimpse into a career she had never imagined before. Now, she’s getting ready to go straight from a biology degree into a PhD course at UT Southwestern in Dallas.
Michael Silva, a student at Cal State Channel Islands, had friends who were caught up in gangs and his life could have taken any number of bad turns before he discovered science and stem cells. Now he’s planning on heading to medical school and start a career in research.
There were many other stories like that at the Bridges Training Meeting held this week in San Francisco. The CIRM Bridges to Stem Cell Research Program (to give the program its full title) is designed to give student trainees the basic training, skills and inspiration they need to pursue careers in stem cell research.
Some of the top stem cell researchers in California were on hand to talk about their work, but also about the path that led them where they are, the uncertainty and challenges they encountered along the way. For the students it was reassuring to hear that the doubts and questions they have are the same as those once faced by leaders in their field.
But while the researchers were there to help inspire the students, many said they were inspired by the students, by their excitement and enthusiasm for their work. Students like Kashfia Neherin at Cal State San Bernardino. She came to the US three years ago from Bangladesh with a limited science background but an endless curiosity. Kashfia saw a poster about the Bridges program and found out she had to take a tissue culture class to apply. “I had never done anything like this before,” she says. “It was completely new to me, but I really enjoyed it and it got me hooked on research.”
Now Kashfia is a pre-med student but also has her sights set on a PhD. All because of that one class.
For the staff at the stem cell agency, it was also a wonderfully inspiring couple of days. The enthusiasm of the students is infectious, and it reminded us all why we do this work, why it’s important, and what our ultimate goal is. And it introduced us to the next generation of stem cell researchers who are going to help us get there.
Here's more information about the Bridges program and a map of the programs.