Training Fund

Faculty member Samantha Butler with trainee Sandeep Gupta

Over the last 15 years, the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center has established a world-class training curriculum for a new generation of scientific pioneers. To date, our training program has advanced the knowledge of more than 250 gifted young scientists — including pre-doctoral graduate students, post-doctoral researchers and clinical fellows — and prepared them for successful careers in academia, medicine or industry.

The cultivation of young researchers is critical as today’s trainees are tomorrow’s leaders and mentors. Yet, continued declines in funding for research universities threaten to limit the opportunities available to outstanding young scientists and clinicians. For this reason, we have elevated our Stem Cell Training Program to be among our highest fundraising priorities.

The training program broadened the scope of my research, taught me numerous techniques that I would have never otherwise been introduced to, and provided me with an invaluable network of colleagues and friends that have enriched my life both professionally and personally. I am extremely grateful to the philanthropic donors for providing me with this remarkable training opportunity.”

– Momoko Watanabe, Ph.D., a former post-doctoral trainee from the laboratory of Bennett Novitch, Ph.D.

Program Overview

Each of the 15 to 20 trainees selected annually through our competitive review process is supported through a $40,000-$75,000 fellowship primarily funded by philanthropy. Our center invests approximately $1 million per year in this program, and still we are able to fund less than half of all applicants. Additional philanthropic resources will allow the center to provide more fellowships to meritorious trainees.

These fellowships support stipends, tuition remission and research supplies, giving trainees from all backgrounds the resources they need to approach their work with focused intensity. This program fosters a sense of community and spurs collaboration through a dedicated course that provides a comprehensive view of the field of stem cell research, including the ethical and policy implications.

Trainees accepted into this competitive program are mentored by stem cell experts and work in faculty labs where they make meaningful contributions to high-profile research projects while pursuing their own lines of scientific inquiry. All participants have a record of bold and creative research pursuits and propose projects that aim to transcend the boundaries of existing knowledge.

Since the launch of the Stem Cell Training Program, trainees have published their research in leading scientific journals, including Nature, Blood, Cell, Neuron, Immunology, Cell Stem Cell, Stem Cells and PNAS.

Trainee contributions to the field of stem cell research include:

  • Developing a stem cell gene therapy cure for Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (ADA SCID) commonly known as “bubble baby” disease.
  • Being part of the research team that was the first in California to reprogram human cells to a pluripotent state, called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.
  • Generating mini brain organoids - simplified human brain tissue grown from stem cells in the lab - to better understand how the Zika virus infects and damages the developing brain.
  • Establishing a standard method for culturing stem cells into the different spinal sensory cell populations, a crucial step toward restoring the sense of touch in patients suffering from spinal cord injuries.
  • Contributing to the creation of artificial thymic organoids that are capable of producing cancer-fighting T cells from patient-derived blood stem cells.

Your Support Makes an Impact

Give the gift of opportunity. Make a gift to our Stem Cell Training Program today or contact our Director of Development Sara Kalish at SKalish@mednet.ucla.edu or 310-983-3063 to learn more about contributing to the future of research and medicine.

"The road is not easy for physicans who wish to pursue advanced training in science; the Stem Cell Training Program and support of my mentor played an enormous role in my professional and personal development. This experience has provided me with an incredibly positive learning experience where inquiry and teamwork are fostered in an environment with state-of-the-art technologies that advance stem cell research."

-  Joshua Sasine, M.D., Ph.D., director of UCLA’s CAR-T Cell Therapy Program, which provides immunotherapy for certain cancers, and a former clinical fellow in the lab of John Chute, M.D.

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