Science thrives at the edge of what’s possible. Pushing the boundary leads to discovery and to solutions for intractable human problems. One field pushing the boundary is biotechnology, especially in the area of stem cell research related to regenerative medicine. California State University students and faculty united with fellow explorers this month in Pasadena as part of the 2011 World Stem Cell Summit.
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine sponsored the CSU participants. The participating CSU students conduct research in stem cell related fields through the Bridges to Stem Cell Research programs. CIRM has awarded CSU funding for 13 Bridges programs. This allows students to benefit from the faculty expertise and lab facilities at CSU and partner universities.
“Our goal is to prepare bright-minded students to research the potential of stem cells in order to improve people’s lives,” said Michael Yaffe, associate director of research activities at CIRM. “The summit allowed students to understand the different perspectives of scientists, industry leaders and patient advocates.”
The sessions at the conference included a unique mix of science, social, political and business topics. Attendees could join a sessions on a range of subjects including generating complete organs, treating neurological disorders and even communicating stem cell advances with the public.
“It was exciting to see all the different aspects of stem cell technology that I could explore in my future career,” said Salvador Garcia, a graduate student with the Bridges program at CSU San Bernardino. “I was also able to get research tips from other Bridges students and recent graduates, while sharing my experience with students just starting out in the program.”
With the direction and support of CSU San Bernardino Biology Professor Nicole Bournias-Vardiabasis and UC Riverside faculty, Garcia’s research includes analyzing magnesium as scaffolding for cell growth. His research is specifically targeted at re-enervation, or the repairing of broken nerve cell connections. Garcia presented his research at the summit as part of a poster session.
At the poster session, Garcia had a chance to share his work with his peers including Brian McFadden, an undergraduate student with the Bridges Program at CSU Fullerton.
“Working side-by-side with faculty and other students adds new life to my academic studies and is preparing me for a career in research,” said McFadden. “The stem cell field is growing at such an incredible rate – I’m thankful to be part of the cutting edge in healthcare technology.”
*Students included in the photo are Nawas Syed and Brian McFadden of CSU Fullerton; Salvador Garcia and Laughing Bear Torrez of CSU San Bernardino; and Danielle Behr, Keri Elkins, Grady Gastelum, Ian Ladran, Cayla Mason, Kayla Muth, Alen Putros, Arra Revilla, Lindsay Southgate and Katia Sularez of San Diego State