Thursday, October 31, 2013

New University of California President Nepolitano’s support for training mirrors CIRM’s support for training stem cell scientists

CIRM-supported high school student Amy Thakrar carrying out a stem cell research project in the lab of Joel Rothman lab at UC Santa Barbara
Janet Napolitano became the president of the University of California system on September 30 and yesterday, in her first major speech in the role, she pledged $15 million for training programs. The funds came out of the system’s “unrestricted” funds—read stash for favorite projects.
We are thrilled that training rose to the top of her priority list. This commitment matches CIRM’s. Our first grants in 2006 were for training graduate students, post doctoral fellows and clinical fellows.

Napolitano, former secretary of Home Land Security, committed $5 million each to programs to fund tuition for students in the country illegally, support for graduate students and support for post docs. The San Francisco Chronicle ran a story about her speech and quoted her on the importance of graduate students and post docs, saying:
“(they) are our future faculty members. They are our future innovators. They are our future Nobel laureates. They merit our additional support right now.”
Dismissing talk of taking the massive $24 billion system private with its 10 campuses and five medical centers, she instead affirmed the valuable role the UC system plays for the state:
“My intent is to be the best advocate possible for what this university and this state can achieve together.”
That, too, is CIRM’s goal, working to be a valuable part of California. Since those first training grants in 2007, we have committed $131 million to supporting graduate students and fellows. But we also believe that training is a continuum that stretches from high school to junior faculty positions. CIRM has awarded more than $370 million to our programs that span this pipeline for the intellectual infrastructure of California’s world-leading stem cell community.

We have internships for high school students, a seven-unit high school curriculum, a program for undergrad internships, and a program to support the early years of new faculty.

Don Gibbons

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