On July 20th, the governing Board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) voted to award $51.08 million to fifteen community colleges and universities across California, including Berkeley City College (BCC), to fund programs that will help train the next generation of stem cell researchers. As part of the CIRM Bridges to Stem Cell Research and Therapy program award, BCC will receive $2,806,896 over five years.
On July 27, Berkeley City College President Dr. Angélica Garcia informed the Peralta Community College District Board of Trustees about the College’s award and its impact on student success, equity, and workforce development. This is the kind of partnership and collaboration between higher education, science, and industry partners that serves local communities.
CIRM, based in Oakland, was created in 2004 when California voters approved Proposition 71: the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative, and has a mission to accelerate stem cell treatments to patients with unmet needs.
The CIRM Bridges to Stem Cell Research and Therapy program provides undergraduate and master’s students with the opportunity to take stem cell related courses and receive hands on experience and training in a stem cell research related laboratory at a university or biotechnology company. Each Bridges internship includes thorough hands-on training and education in stem cell research, and direct patient engagement and outreach activities that engage California’s diverse communities.
This means that Berkeley City College students interested in pursuing a career in biotechnology will have the opportunity to obtain paid internships throughout the Bay Area’s many research laboratories to help accelerate progress in stem cell research and make progress on their career goals. The paid internships provide a level of access to high quality, competitive internships that are often unpaid and further marginalize low income students, who are also often first-generation students of color.
Maria T. Millan, M.D., President and CEO of CIRM, commented, “The CIRM Bridges programs across the state of California will provide students with the tools and resources to begin their careers in regenerative medicine.”
Berkeley City College President Dr. Angélica Garcia is thrilled about the award. “What a great day for BCC—- $2.8M over 5 years for paid internships for students! As we know, education can be a liberating and powerful driver for social and economic growth. This grant for the diverse student population at BCC will create opportunities in higher education and biotechnology, greater earning power, and opportunities for upward social mobility for students and their families.”
Senator Art Torres (Ret.) JD, Vice Chair of the CIRM Board, added that “No other agency in California or the nation has devoted so much to helping create future stem cell scientists from community colleges, like Berkeley City College, and state universities, that reflects the diversity of our state with a goal of helping patients and developing future cures. Bridges funding has created a great legacy for California.”
For more information about CIRM, visit https://www.cirm.ca.gov/.