March 25, 2016

Contact: Amy Hewes

Cal Poly Receives $2.6 Million Grant to Foster Stem Cell Scientists

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly’s regenerative medicine program has received a five-year, $2.6 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the Golden State’s stem cell institute.

Cal Poly is among just 15 programs funded by CIRM to support the training of a workforce capable of accelerating stem cell treatments to patients with unmet clinical needs.

The university’s master’s degree specialization in regenerative medicine was founded in 2009 with an initial $1.4 million grant from CIRM. Offered to 10 students each year, the interdisciplinary program includes graduate students from biomedical engineering, biology and animal science.

“The program includes a year of laboratory-intensive coursework plus an independent project followed by a nine-month internship at a biotech company or research institute,” explained Trevor Cardinal, coordinator of the specialization.

The internship is a unique aspect of the program at Cal Poly. Partners include ViaCyte, currently in clinical trials for a bio-artificial pancreas to treat diabetes, and Capricor, which is in clinical trials for a cell therapy for heart failure.

New components of Cal Poly’s program made possible by the second CIRM grant include patient engagement, inclusion of healthcare professionals in a seminar class, and community outreach.

“CIRM funding allows us to incorporate events for students to interact with patients, so they can gain a greater appreciation for the potential personal impact of cell-based therapies,” Cardinal said. “We also will invite guest speakers from industry in a seminar course on the process for developing scientific and engineering advances into clinical products.”

To educate the public on the current state of regenerative medicine, Cal Poly Biology Professors Elena Keeling and Sandra Clement are developing a science communication seminar that will include communication training and an outreach activity for schools or community groups.

For more information on Cal Poly’s Regenerative Medicine Program see

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Photo: BMED Regenerative Medicine Program student Megan Chu.

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