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Empire State Institutional Training Programs in Stem Cell Research for Predoctoral and Postdoctoral Fellows - 2014

RFA # 1009240111

Institution Program Director (PD) Amount Title
Albert Einstein College of Medicine Paul Frenette $1,834,784 Einstein Training Program in Stem Cell Research
Columbia University Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic $1,869,505 Columbia Training Program in Stem Cell Research
Cornell University Alexander Nikitin $1,890,000 Cornell Training Program in Stem Cell Research
University at Buffalo, SUNY Stelios Andreadis $1,750,000 Stem Cells in Regenerative Medicine (SCiRM)

Einstein Training Program in Stem Cell Research

Paul Frenette, M.D.
Co-PD: Ulrich Steidl, M.D., Ph.D.
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

In this application to form the Einstein Training Program in Stem Cell Research, we have assembled a team of 22 well-funded mentors in stem cell research, with access to ample research facilities and to a diverse pool of potential trainees. We propose to support 4 predoctoral and 3 postdoctoral training positions for this program per grant year. Laboratories included in this training program performed admirably over the years in fostering productive research, in mentoring individuals and preparing them to assume faculty positions or start productive postdoctoral training in highly prestigious institutions. We have recently developed a graduate course in stem cell biology that will be required for all trainees. Trainees enrolled in the program will participate in laboratory-, departmental-, institute- and university-wide activities such as: biannual Institute symposia/retreats; invited seminar speakers hosted by the institute; institute-sponsored journal clubs and work-in-progress (WIP) sessions as well as other clubs and WIP sessions held by research clusters, Departments and Centers. The Graduate Division and the Belfer Institute (for postdoctoral fellows) have curricula that provide critical mentoring to trainees in important survival skills such as seminar design, manuscript design, manuscript review, grant writing, job interview skills, laboratory management, networking, and mentoring. We have also established an evaluation scheme which includes the assessment of: (a) the training experience per se in which written and oral evaluations of mentees and mentors will be separately evaluated and (b) the long-term success of trainees as scientists which will be tracked over years beyond the funding period. The expanding faculty recruitment and basic stem cell research at Einstein, combined with the development of a specific educational program, will provide trainees with an exceptional training environment in stem cell biology.

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Columbia Training Program in Stem Cell Research

Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, Ph.D.
Co-PD: Lori Sussel, Ph.D.
Columbia University

The Empire State Columbia University Stem Cell Training Program aspires to educate tomorrow’s leaders in stem cell biology by integrating the outstanding stem cell research and diverse training opportunities available across both campuses of Columbia University (Morningside and Medical Center). Columbia University is uniquely positioned to offer a well-integrated training program in basic, bioengineering and translational studies of stem cells. Our faculty is working on the forefront of stem cell research and Columbia University recruits and trains the highest caliber students and postdoctoral fellows from around the world. The focal areas of the program are biophysical regulation of stem cells, directed differentiation, modeling of disease and regenerative medicine. Our mentors include a core group of stem cell researchers who were selected based on their success and productivity in stem cell research and outstanding training records. Graduate trainees will be selected after the first year of their PhD program, allowing us to recruit candidates with the best academic record who have already demonstrated the commitment and talent for stem cell research. The most promising early career postdoctoral fellows will be recruited into the program after they have initiated stem cell research. We are requesting annual support for 3 predoctoral students and 3 postdoctoral fellows in each year for 5 years. The program has been designed to provide rigorous theoretical and practical training in stem cell biology through didactic course work, research in selected Columbia laboratories, and attendance and participation in two stem cell seminar series, the annual Stem Cell Day and an annual program retreat. Columbia has a long and exceptional training record for predoctoral students and postdoctoral fellows. The proposed interdisciplinary Stem Cell Training Program will facilitate new creative collaborations between Columbia investigators and allow us to recruit and retain the most talented students and fellows to stem cell research.

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Cornell Training Program in Stem Cell Research

Alexander Nikitin, M.D., Ph.D.
Co-PD: John Schimenti, Ph.D.
Cornell University

The goal of this application is to provide comprehensive predoctoral and postdoctoral training in stem cell biology. The training program will be conducted under the supervision of the University-wide Cornell Stem Cell Program. The training will be provided to 3 predoctoral and 3 postdoctoral trainees annually and involve 23 carefully selected stem cell research faculty mentors. The faculty mentors work in a broad variety of stem cell research areas ranging from molecular and developmental biology to functional and computational genomics to bioengineering and preclinical animal models. Selection of trainees will be based upon academic and research promise, with a preference for those conducting collaborative or multidisciplinary research. Trainees will take courses focused on stem cell research and regenerative medicine, and participate in ongoing activities of the Cornell Stem Cell Program, including Work-in-Progress Reports, the Stem Cell Seminar Series, the annual Stem Cell Symposium, journal clubs and retreats tailored to this program. Furthermore, the trainees will have an opportunity for training at the NYSTEM-supported Stem Cell Modeling and Phenotyping Core and Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting Core Facility. This proposed program will occur in the context of Cornell’s New Life Sciences Initiative, the largest effort in its history, and in close interaction with the Cornell Center for Vertebrate Genomics. By virtue of a faculty known for its exceptional dedication to training of students and young researchers, targeted Institutional support for the Cornell Stem Cell Program, a culture of cross-disciplinary research, and a wide array of shared research resources and services, Cornell provides an outstanding environment for trainees. This program will enhance the Cornell's ability to attract and retain the most promising and talented students and fellows in stem cell research, thereby providing the basis for expanding the pool of outstanding stem cell researchers in New York State.

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 Stem Cells in Regenerative Medicine (SCiRM)

Stelios Andreadis, Ph.D.
University at Buffalo, SUNY

Stem cells have the potential to revolutionize modern medicine by providing building blocks for tissue regeneration. Successful translation of stem cell breakthroughs into cell therapies requires interdisciplinary approaches that draw from biology, medicine and bioengineering, but very few scientists or engineers are prepared to meet this challenge. To this end, the University at Buffalo (UB) Schools of Engineering and Medicine, and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) Graduate Division of the University propose to develop an innovative graduate training program to educate future leaders in this field. The program brings together 18 faculty from UB and RPCI and is designed to support 8 students per year, with a maximum training period of three years. Students will be eligible to apply to the program after completion of 3 or 4 semesters of graduate studies and upon successful evaluation become SCiRM fellows. Fellows will be selected from a large pool of ~300 students - including underrepresented minorities - in three well-integrated graduate programs at UB and RPCI. A combination of training activities, including boot camp, course work, seminars and annual retreats is designed to enable SCiRM fellows to carry out cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research, enhance their written and oral communication skills and foster a collaborative environment. Each fellow will conduct stem cell research in the laboratory of a SCiRM faculty-mentor in collaboration with a co-mentor to increase interactions. Excellent facilties are available for cutting-edge research including the Western New York Stem Cell Culture and Analysis Center (WNYSTEM) funded by NYSTEM. This training program will become a magnet, attracting excellent graduate students, and foster new inter-institutional collaborations that may lead to scientific and technological advances and health care deliverables. The combination of a highly-trained science workforce with potential for commercialization of research findings is expected to have significant economic impact in Western New York.

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