Pasadena City College Honors Children's Hospital Los Angeles for Industry/Education Partnership By Pasadena City College
Support for Innovative Stem Cell Training Program Attracts New Students to Scientific CareersMEDIA CONTACT: Ellin Kavanagh at 323-361-8505
LOS ANGELES (June 7, 2011) – Children's Hospital Los Angeles has received a 2011 Career and Technical Education Industry Partnership Award from Pasadena City College (PCC) for its ongoing involvement in a program that trains students for careers in stem cell science.
The award was given recently at PCC's annual Industry/Education Partnership Breakfast and accepted by Barbara Driscoll, PhD, an investigator at The Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles. "We need more highly trained people who have the ability to do hands-on work in biomedical laboratories and move the science forward," said Dr. Driscoll.
PCC launched its Stem Cell Training Program in 2009 after receiving a $1.7 million Bridges to Stem Cell Research Grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). The state agency funds stem cell research at non-profit institutions and companies throughout California.
Since then, 20 PCC interns have participated at three sites: Children's Hospital, the California Institute of Technology and the University of Southern California (USC). This year, college officials plan to apply for a renewal of the CIRM grant for the small but growing program.
"Our goal is to be a training center for people who want to work in stem cell biology, in particular with stem and progenitor cells, which is unlike working with anything else," said Dr. Driscoll, who serves on the program's Advisory Board, as well as Children's Hospital internship host coordinator.
In the year long intensive training, students learn hands-on laboratory procedures and techniques for working with various types of stem cells, including lung stem cells, progenitor cells and amniotic fluid stem cells.
At Children's Hospital, the interns work in Dr. Driscoll's laboratory in the Developmental Biology and Regenerative Medicine Program. Her research team is exploring how the environment in the lung changes when the lung is injured or ages—and what role stem cells might play in lung repair. One particular focus is on the problem of premature aging in some lungs, which can affect both children and adults.
Brent Polk, MD, director of The Saban Research Institute commented, “Barbara's commitment to supporting the scientific spark in these promising college students represents our goal at The Saban Research Institute, Children’s Hospital and USC, to develop a pipeline of future scientists and physician-scientists to address the most pressing societal and biomedical problems. If I were one of these students, she would certainly inspire me to pursue a research career.”
So far, all of the student participants in the PCC training program have remained in either academic or biotech science as a job choice.
Dr. Driscoll, who is also an assistant professor of research at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, is committed to providing the kind of mentoring that helped her along the way. "As a scientist, I recognize how difficult it can be for people to choose science as a career and remain committed to it," she said. "Helping someone else who is trying to advance themselves is one of the most gratifying things you can do."
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