University explores stem cell research

Published: April 3, 2009  |  Source: thecamarilloacorn.com
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A new course of study at California State University Channel Islands this fall will train students to conduct research that could lead to cures for diabetes, spinal cord injuries or cancer.

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine recently awarded the Camarillo-based university a threeyear, $1.7million grant to develop a master’slevel curriculum on stem cell technology and laboratory management. The institute also awarded stem cell research grants to 10 other universities this year.

Ching-Hua Wang, director of the university’s biotechnology and bioinformatics programs, said the new curriculum, which will merge business with science, is “one of a kind, even in the nation.”

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine was formed in 2005 after the passage of Proposition 71, the Stem Cell Research and Cures Act that provides $3 billion in funding.

Scientists say stem cells have the potential to treat or cure diseases because of their ability to replace damaged tissue. Research could lead to treatment that repairs muscle cells after a heart attack or replaces neurons damaged by spinal cord injury, stroke or other neurological problems, according to the institute’s website. Conceivably, stem cells have the potential to replace any damaged or injured tissue.

The institute’s mission is to advance and support stem cell research and the development of cures and therapies through grants and loans. The institute’s board has approved more than $693 million in grants so far, the website stated.

As the stem cell industry in California continues to grow, research labs could face a “critical shortage” of biomedical workers trained in stateoftheart laboratory techniques, institute Chair Robert Klein said in a prepared statement.

CSUCI wants to meet that need by offering the new curriculum, which includes a oneyear intern placement for students.

The university expects that the first group of students with master’s degrees in stem cell technology and laboratory management will graduate in 2010.

By Michelle Knight