Baxter, v3 9/9/14

Testimony as part of Public Comments
California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM)
Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC) Meeting
Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Good afternoon. My name is Susan Baxter. I’m the executive director of the
California State University’s system-wide program for biotechnology.

I am here today on behalf of the California State University (CSU). We
respectfully ask the ICOC to discuss the Bridges to Stem Cell Research
program at your meeting in October.

The Bridges program is the major plank in CIRM’s strategic public commitment
to “offer opportunities to students representing the diversity of California’s
population who are hoping to pursue a career in science and research.” Today
fourteen CSU campuses host Bridges programs; together they’ve trained over
750 student researchers since 2009.

Workforce development isn't an add-on, but rather one of the integral parts of
CIRM’s mission dating back to the December 2006 Strategic Plan. The CSU
first proposed the Bridges program as a workforce development program back
in 2007. We wrote (9/24/2007), “…workforce development aimed at providing
skilled scientists, engineers, and technicians, at all degree levels, with particular
focus on research translation and product development, is vital to supporting
S.M. Baxter, v3 9/9/14
the emerging stem cell industry in California.” We also recognized that
“increased exposure and understanding of stem cell advances, biology, and
technologies will set future product development teams up for success,
whether they gain hands-on experience in a stem cell laboratory…or learn
about the excitement and promise around stem cell research as part of their
general education.”

Working with BayBio and BIOCOM on their Institute Boards, I know the
number one workforce need in this industry is hands-on practice and
participation in multi-disciplinary, team-based research projects. Research
experience is baked into the Bridges program; as a result, graduates have
many career options. Despite the Great Recession, Bridges graduates have
succeeded in landing jobs and gaining admittance to graduate and medical
schools at much higher rates than peer groups.

CSU San Marcos students gain exposure to regulatory affairs, project
management and clinical trials management as part of their Bridges program.
As a result companies in the San Diego region have hired nearly all of them.
They work at Compass Dermatopathology, Genoptix, GenMark Diagnostics,
Millipore, Illumina, Inception Sciences, and Thermo Fisher. In fact, Thermo
Fisher has hired four CSU San Marcos Bridges graduates.

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In January CSU Sacramento students won the CSU’s biotechnology
commercialization challenge with a stem cell manufacturing-related idea.
Team leader Manmeet Singh, an undergraduate biological sciences major,
went on to win an Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Team grant from the National
Science Foundation. The grant allows them to develop their commercialization
plan further and attend an entrepreneurship program offered by the University
of Michigan’s I-Corps Node. At the end of the program last week, the industry-
based course instructors gave out one award - to the team that best embodied
the spirit of I-Corps. They gave that award to Ms. Singh and the Sac State

I am here today because CIRM has not made a decision about the future of the
Bridges to Stem Cell Research program.

CSU San Marcos and its partner community college, MiraCosta College, are
not making plans to recruit another Bridges student cohort this fall. This
scenario is playing out across California as programs statewide are forced to
suspend outreach, recruitment and course offerings this fall.

By making no decision CIRM will lose significant momentum in its efforts to
build and inspire a professional stem-cell-related workforce in California.

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We urge CIRM leadership in the room today to consider extending and
continuing the Bridges to Stem Cell Research program. We welcome the
opportunity to discuss the impacts of this program with you further. There is no
better investment you can make for the State of California.