Widgets Magazine

Faculty Senate approves stem cell doctoral program

The Faculty Senate approved a new interdisciplinary program in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine (SCBRM) in a unanimous voice vote on Thursday. The SCBRM program seeks a five-year trial period beginning Sept. 11, 2011 through Aug. 31, 2016.

“It’s a pleasure to see the cutting edge research being translated into the teaching program,” said Richard Roberts, chair of the Committee on Graduate Studies (C-GS).

The SCBRM program, once established, would be the first doctoral program of its kind.

“Stem cell biology and regenerative medicine is a discipline apart from genetics, from developmental biology, from basic biology, from medicine,” Roberts said.

“It draws from those fields, but moves beyond them,” he added.

The proposed program is set to feature top-notch principal investigators (PIs), new laboratories in the Lorry Lokey Stem Cell Building and financing from California’s Stem Cell Initiative. Admission to the program will only be offered to doctoral candidates. The conferral of master’s degrees will serve as a “consolation” prize for those students who do not obtain their Ph.D.

John Pringle, senior associate dean of the School of Medicine, lauded the program as “a valuable thing to bring forward.”

Professor of obstetrics and gynecology Renee Pera described the program as “bridging the basic sciences to clinical outcomes.”

Despite its lofty goals, the SCBRM program had humble beginnings. According to C-GS members, the origins of the new interdisciplinary program came from the bottom up.

“It’s been several years in production and we’d like to say that it really initiated at the grassroots,” said Theo Palmer, associate professor of neurosurgery. “We became aware of this through conversations with our current graduate students and incoming graduate students.”

The Faculty Senate’s approval of the new program signals “a very exciting time for the field,” Palmer said.