Fall 2009


Big Stem Cell Grant a Boon to Science Students

Biology Professors Amy Sprowles and Jacob Varkey in the newly expanded biotechnology lab on campus, where undergraduates use cutting-edge equipment to study stem cells.

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has approved $17.5 million in funding for training in stem cell research at institutions across the state, with an anticipated $1.6 million slated for Humboldt State University.

The funding will help establish a new certificate program in addition to internships, training for local medical professionals and outreach to the community.

Students in the certificate program will learn embryonic stem cell biology techniques and be able to complete additional study at either Stanford University Center for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research or the University of California, San Francisco Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

Image of a Stem Cell

“Part of the impetus for this training program is that we’re at a point where stem cell science is translating into actual therapies. All Californians are soon going to have to deal with health choices, either for themselves or their family members, which include stem cell sciences,” says Professor Amy Sprowles of the Department of Biological Sciences.

“Getting the local professionals up to speed means they’ll be better able to educate their patients and make sure they’re aware of the most up-to-date medical care. So that will benefit all our community members.”

HSU Professor Jacob Varkey, who teaches genetics and biotechnology, says stem cell biology will be a major facet of modern science in coming years.

“Stem cell biology is a basic science — to really understand what development is and how cells divide and differentiate into different cell types. This grant is a beginning for what we see as a long-term objective of HSU,” says Varkey.

The CIRM was established in 2005 with the passage of Proposition 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act. To date, the CIRM governing board has approved 253 research and facility grants totaling more than $635 million, making CIRM the world’s largest source of funding for human embryonic stem cell research.

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