Education and training in hESC based research are important components of the RBC. The RBC faculty and GRA institutions are committed to education at every level.
The Human Embryonic Stem cell Toolbox (HEST) Workshop
A number of researchers from across Georgia as well from India, Korea, Japan, Mexico, Canada, and Europe. have attended and participated in the HEST workshop. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the HEST workshop has trained well over 38 investigators. The HEST workshop serves as the platform for future educational activities in the RBC. Drs. Mitialipova and Stice are the organizers of the HEST workshop and other RBC members including Drs. Baile, Condie, Dalton, Rao from UGA and Dr. Robins from BresaGen were lecturers.
Human Embryonic Stem Cell (hESC) Symposia
Half-day symposiums on hESC topics are held twice per year in conjunction with the HEST workshop and with the Regenerate International Conference and Exposition to be held in Atlanta in 2005 . A pre-conference symposium on stem cells will be held prior to this meeting. Over 500 researchers interested in tissue engineering from around the world will come to this conference. The last symposium, in June 2004 "Stem Cell: the foundation for repairing the aging body" was attended by over 200 people, ranging from high school students to established investigators from several Georgia institutions.
Graduate and Undergraduate Courses and Training
RBC faculty have led and participated in several classroom, departmental and inter-institutional courses that include hESC topics. For example, Drs. Dalton and Stice were guest lecturers in over 20 class hours a year on stem cell topics ranging from the basic sciences to ethical considerations. In addition, Dr. Dalton teaches a graduate course on signal transduction that encompasses stem cells. Dr. Csete teaches classes in cell biology and will be teaching a dedicated stem cell course in 2005.
Undergraduate Research Experiences
Undergraduate students take honors credits to conduct research in RCB faculty laboratories. They gain invaluable hands-on research experience and development of critical thinking, problem solving, and analytical skills applicable in course work as well as the hESC based research. The program helps to identify academic and career interests and develop a collaborative, working relationship with a RBC faculty member early in a student's academic career. For example, Wes Ambrege under the guidance of Dr. Rao learned how to grow hESC during one semester and then received a Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (CURO) fellowship to conduct research on hESC cell differentiation to endothelial cells during the summer of 2004. CURO-AP participation is similar to taking a 3 credit hour class or having a part-time job. Students work an average of 10-12 hours per week for the entire academic year. In addition, participants are required to register for a 1-hour research seminar for academic credit that meets weekly. CURO-AP participants receive a stipend of $1000 per semester and $2500 for one summer.
High School Education on hESC
For the past four years High School students have spent 6 weeks in the hESC core facility as part of the Young Scholar Program at the University of Georgia . This program is funded from outside and private sources, but is mediated through the university. The purpose of the program is to recruit talented minority students into science majors at the land-grant universities. To apply to the Young Scholars Program, students must submit a letter of application outlining their academic or research interests, which helps the program leaders match them up with faculty mentors. Last year, Ferris Johnson from an Atlanta area high school helped develop a real-time PCR assay to decipher the level of mouse fibroblast cell mRNA contamination in hESC collected from mouse feeder layers.