San Diego research centers receive $15 million to train next generation of regenerative medicine scientists

A group of young researchers standing in their lab

Three San Diego research institutions have been awarded nearly $15 million from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to train the next generation of scientists in regenerative medicine, a field of research that holds great promise for generating transformative medicines.

Sanford Burnham Prebys, Scripps Research and University of California San Diego each received grants of around $5 million from CIRM to support the training of graduate students, postdoctoral trainees, and clinical trainees. 

Sanford Burnham Prebys received $4,931,353 to launch a multidisciplinary stem cell training program. The grant will provide funds for competitive awards for Ph.D. students, postdocs and clinical fellows in stem cell, gene therapy and regenerative medicine fields at the institute. The training program will be led by Evan Snyder, M.D., Ph.D., professor and director of the Center for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine, as well as professors/directors Pier Lorenzo Puri, M.D. and Alessandra Sacco, Ph.D., in the Development, Aging and Regeneration Program Center at Sanford Burnham Prebys.

Sacco says stem cell research holds tremendous promise for medical treatments, and that CIRM’s support will allows scientists to learn more about the process through which science becomes medicine.

“We are exceptionally grateful that CIRM is supporting this important program,” says Sacco. “This award helps the next generation of stem cell and regenerative medicine scientists who will work across boundaries and between disciplines to become capable of translating basic discovery science into clinical research for patient benefit.”

The CIRM awards will also foster interdisciplinary regenerative medicine collaborations among the three San Diego recipient institutions and support outreach science activities in the broader San Diego community. The funding also will support educational programs for K-12 students and undergraduates on topics related to regenerative medicine that are intended to reduce disparities and disproportionate access to science.

"CIRM has provided critical leadership spearheading regenerative medicine and stem cell research," says Peter Schultz, president and CEO of Scripps Research. "This forward-looking investment in training the next generation of scientists will help ensure continued progress toward realizing the tremendous promise of regenerative medicine."

Schultz will head the Scripps Research program which received $4,931,353 to train scientists in disciplines and techniques central to stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. These include cellular processes involved in human embryonic and adult stem cell self-renewal and differentiation and the development of novel drugs to target related pathways. 

University of California San Diego received $4,992,446 to train the next generation of stem cell biologists, driving advances ranging from the unraveling of fundamental mechanisms of cell function to the development of new therapies. The UC San Diego training program will be led by Alysson R. Muotri, Ph.D., professor of pediatrics and cellular and molecular medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine, and Sheldon Morris, M.D., primary care physician at UC San Diego Health.

“This grant comes at a time when stem cell research in San Diego has matured, thanks to strong support over the years from visionaries such as CIRM and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford,” Muotri said. “The only way to keep up this momentum is to have professionals that understand how to use and apply stem cell and gene therapies. We are building the next generation of researchers and clinicians to do this.”

This year’s awards build on an earlier Research Training program through which CIRM supported training in regenerative medicines from 2006-2016 and trained 940 “CIRM Scholars” including 321 doctoral students, 453 postdocs and 166 MDs.

About CIRM

At CIRM, we never forget that we were created by the people of California to accelerate stem cell treatments to patients with unmet medical needs, and act with a sense of urgency to succeed in that mission.

To meet this challenge, our team of highly trained and experienced professionals actively partners with both academia and industry in a hands-on, entrepreneurial environment to fast track the development of today’s most promising stem cell technologies.

With $5.5 billion in funding and more than 150 active stem cell programs in our portfolio, CIRM is the world’s largest institution dedicated to helping people by bringing the future of cellular medicine closer to reality.

This piece was adapted from a press release published by Scripps Research.

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