Summer 2017 Yields Growth and Plans for Expansion

Summer 2017 Yields Growth and Plans for Expansion

By Marie Rippon, CEO LabLaunch.

This summer was a resounding success for Pathways to Stem Cell Science. Serving 76 students total, the high school and college programs were full of inquisitive, intelligent pupils. This year was the first in which all courses were held in the Johanna B. Gunter Stem Cell Training Laboratory, a purpose-built biotechnology facility within the Lab Launch incubator in Monrovia, California. In this industry-grade space, students worked alongside professional scientists, learning not only techniques, but also what it means to work in a laboratory environment.

This year, Pathways’ Early Investigator High School (EiHS) programs attracted a 50% increase in student attendance since last year. From all over California and even as far away as Illinois, students chose Pathways over other summer programs, yielding an astounding 90% matriculation rate.

High school students participated in one of three courses: EiHS Research Internship, Stem Cell Academy, or Regenerative Medicine and Disease Modeling. Three outstanding high schoolers won scholarships for the Stem Cell Academy, generously provided by Biological Industries. Each course includes lecture-discussions, hands-on instruction and guest speakers. Students learned industry-standard techniques, essential concepts in stem cell biology, and practical, real-world skills.

This summer’s college courses included 45 students in the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) Bridges program, coming from local California State University campuses as well as Pasadena City College. The CIRM Bridges course is designed to prepare students for research placements. Therefore, they learned not only the latest techniques, but also how to work independently in a laboratory setting. Even after the course ended, Pathways continued to provide scientific consultation and support during the students’ research placements.

After completing Pathways courses, students have gone on to achieve success in the sciences. Carla Gonzalez – a CIRM Bridges student in Summer 2016, continues to find value in what she learned:

“Now, I am a student at Keck Graduate School pursuing a masters degree in Bioprocessing Engineering, and I continue to use the knowledge gained from Dr. Fox to conduct research in the expansion of stem cells. The mentorship Dr. Fox fosters has catalyzed my current academic path, and I will continue to use her knowledge and experience to help me further my career,” states Gonzalez.

Some of the most ambitious Pathways students have expressed interest in attending more courses next summer. Luckily, Pathways is already planning to expand its college course offerings and add an afterschool program in stem cell engineering for high school students. For those who express an early interest in science, Pathways is also developing programs for pre-school/kindergarten and Elementary programs that will introduce children to the study of biology. Preschool curriculum is also underway – all of these new programs are expected to open in 2018.

Stay tuned for information on new programs and stories of our students’ achievements in their scientific pursuits. 2017 was a great year, and we expect even more from 2018!

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