UCI’s Bogi Andersen (left), professor of biological chemistry and medicine, and Peter Donovan, professor of biological chemistry and developmental and cell biology, are co-principal investigators for the CIRM researcher training program. Bogi Andersen by Steve Zylius / UCI; Peter Donovan by the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center

Irvine, Calif., Sept. 23, 2021 — The University of California, Irvine has received a five-year, $5 million award from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to support a comprehensive doctoral, postdoctoral and clinical researcher training program to prepare the current and next generation of leaders in stem cell biology, gene therapy and regenerative medicine.

With an emphasis on basic and translational research, the award will support 12 fellows and be administered through the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center. This funding will expand and extend the successful track record of the center’s previous CIRM grants, which enabled the training of 73 scientists in 40 labs at UCI between 2005 and 2015.

“This achievement recognizes the transformative work being done at the SCRC in discovering treatments for neurological disorders and spinal cord injuries, as well as diseases such as cancer and diabetes,” said co-principal investigator Peter Donovan, professor of biological chemistry and developmental and cell biology. “Our center encompasses a wide array of interdisciplinary investigators who span the schools of medicine, biological sciences, engineering, pharmaceutical science, art and law. This program will provide exceptional opportunities for broad exposure to concepts and techniques in diverse fields. Each trainee will be assigned a formal research mentor and a clinical mentor, offering them a complete bench-to-bedside experience.”

A major goal of the CIRM training program is to increase diversity in stem cell research and help shape California’s regenerative medicine workforce into one more representative of the state’s population. Federally designated as an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution and a Hispanic-Serving Institution, UCI facilitates the recruitment of a diverse cohort.

“The societal impact of our program will revolutionize the way that human diseases and disorders are treated and also create new jobs in the biotechnology sector,” said co-principal investigator Bogi Andersen, professor of biological chemistry and medicine. “Our trainees will be at the forefront of finding new techniques for using stem cells to deliver drugs or other agents to tissues; discovering improved methods of using gene therapy; increasing our insights into normal development and risks to the early embryo; and detecting and understanding the effects of toxins in the environment and workplace.”

About the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center: The University of California, Irvine has received more than $125 million in funding from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine – the seventh-highest total in the state – some of which was matched with private funding to create the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center. Our scientists have created stem cell-based treatments that reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s in animal models, have enabled rats with spinal cord injuries to walk again and are developing cell therapies to treat Huntington’s disease. In addition, our clinicians are actively enrolling patients in clinical trials for diabetes, COVID-19, Crohn’s disease and cancer. Learn more at stemcell.uci.edu/index.php.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 public universities by U.S. News & World Report. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 224 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion statewide. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.

About the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine: At CIRM, we never forget that we were created by the people of California to accelerate stem cell treatments to patients with unmet medical needs and act with a sense of urgency to succeed in that mission. To meet this challenge, our team of highly trained and experienced professionals actively partners with both academia and industry in a hands-on, entrepreneurial environment to fast-track the development of today’s most promising stem cell technologies. With $5.5 billion in funding and more than 150 active stem cell programs in our portfolio, CIRM is the world’s largest institution dedicated to helping people by bringing the future of cellular medicine closer to reality. For more information, go to www.cirm.ca.gov.

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About UCI’s Brilliant Future campaign: Publicly launched on Oct. 4, 2019, the Brilliant Future campaign aims to raise awareness and support for UCI. By engaging 75,000 alumni and garnering $2 billion in philanthropic investment, UCI seeks to reach new heights of excellence in student success, health and wellness, research and more. The School of Medicine plays a vital role in the success of the campaign. Learn more by visiting https://brilliantfuture.uci.edu/uci-school-of-medicine.