Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) and adult stem cells are increasingly being investigated for treating many diseases, tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and the development of disease specific tissue models for genomic analysis and in vitro drug screening. However, it is difficult to precisely control the behavior of stem cells in general, since environmental conditions for self-renewal and differentiation are not well understood, yet precise control is critical to realizing all of these downstream benefits. Graduate education has traditionally been successful in educating students in either engineering or biology, but the disparate nature of the scientific and engineering backgrounds necessary to move this field forward requires novel methodology in education is necessary for success. The University of California at Berkeley proposes an interdisciplinary training program in Stem Cell Engineering, its application to the treatment of disease, and the legal and ethical issues surrounding the study and use of stem cells. With the integral involvement and support of the Berkeley Stem Cell Center, Bioengineering Department, and Molecular and Cell Biology Department, we have designed a program to educate and train predoctoral fellows in issues relating to stem cell engineering. This newly created discipline represents the convergence of the biological and physical sciences, engineering, and ethics and law. The primary objectives of this program will be to formally organize the structure and scope of new training opportunities in this emerging and rapidly expanding discipline, to dissolve traditional academic barriers to interdisciplinary graduate science education, and to provide strong research training in academia and industry. As part of these efforts, we have developed a new Stem Cell Engineering curriculum, a seminar series, an annual retreat, interdisciplinary research, and an industrial internship experience. The result will be highly effective young scientists trained to work at the interface of biology and engineering and within a very timely area of biomedical research.
The primary objective of this Stem Cell Engineering (SCE) Training Program will be to formally build and institute a structure and scope for research and classroom training opportunities in an emerging and rapidly expanding discipline at the interface of stem cell biology and engineering, and thereby reduce traditional academic barriers to interdisciplinary graduate science and engineering education.