As our understanding of stem cell biology is rapidly advancing, the application of this knowledge toward the development of novel therapeutic strategies becomes increasingly imminent. Successful translation of the basic science into clinical applications requires a novel type of scientist who has been trained across the medical-science spectrum. This calls for an educational program that integrates a strong knowledge base in stem cell research with experience in the clinical application of these new technologies. Such a program will ensure that participants can establish successful independent research programs to advance the development and application of stem cell based therapies. Our current proposal aims at establishing a Stem Cell Training Program at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) to prepare pre- and post-doctoral students for a career in stem cell biology. This program will provide outstanding basic and clinical stem cell biology research based on multi-disciplinary, disease-directed research and patient care, with an emphasis of translating new discoveries and understandings in stem cell science into clinical therapeutics for degenerative diseases. An essential component of the program is group mentorship, which will guide trainees to become independent scientists and help shape their future careers. Trainees in this program will work independently on their own research, while as a group will address key areas of stem cell research including: identification and characterization of stem cells;differentiation and functionality of these cells;alternative methods to derive stem cells;generation of patient-specific cell types;generation of tools for cellular therapy;and application of stem cells in therapy and drug discovery. In addition, they will complement their practical experience with participation in classes, seminars and symposia, which will enhance their awareness and consideration of not only of the science, but of the ethical, political, and social implications of their work. The HSCI Training Program will provide three pre-doctoral and four post-doctoral trainees with a collaborative platform to study many aspects of stem cell biology. Although located at different institutions and under the mentorship of different Principal Investigators, this program will shape the direction of their scientific research and career paths. Sharing of data, core facilities, and face-to-face interactions are essential to the success of this program and will be facilitated through HSCI's inter-disciplinary educational and scientific strategy.
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