Stem Cell Biology Training Grant

The Stem Cell Biology Training Grant provides support for pre-doctoral training in stem cell biology, clinical applications of stem cells and the ethical issues related to stem cell research.

The goal of the training program is to provide pre-doctoral trainees with the essential tools to enable successful careers. To accomplish this goal, the program provides coursework and hands-on training that will train students to make advancements in the basic biological study of stem cells and to develop new stem cell-based clinical therapies. Training mentors conduct a specialized program designed for the unique needs of stem cell research-focused trainees in Responsible Conduct of Research.

Interdisciplinary in scope, the training program brings together highly qualified faculty from within the Stem Cell Institute, a state-of-the-art biomedical research environment that is ideally suited for training young research scientists, as well as other investigators at the university with complementary expertise.

Trainees in this program are required to complete graduate-level courses in stem cell biology, engage in a mentored research project, and participate in educational activities offered by the Stem Cell Institute.

Read below for a full list of training faculty as well as program contact information. 

Research programs and training faculty

The Stem Cell Biology Training Grant research at the University of Minnesota brings together top faculty researchers from six primary departments:

  • Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology and Genetics (MCDB&G)
  • Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology (MICaB)
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Neuroscience
  • Integrative Biology and Physiology
  • Medicine

The interdisciplinary nature of the program encourages cross development of research across biomedical science and engineering. Opportunities involve a full specturm of work on animal and human models utilizing both pluripotent stem cells as well as adult/tissue-specific stem cells.

Each faculty member is listed under his/her primary department, however many of them hold appointments in multiple departments and make significant contributions to more than one area of research.

Molecular, Cellular Developmental Biology and Genetics (MCDB&G)

  • David Greenstein, PhD: Development genetics, germline development, and cell signaling.
  • Yasuhiko Kawakami, PhD: Molecular and genetic mechanisms regulating organogenesis during embryonic development.
  • David Largaespada, PhD: Mouse ES cells used for studies of cancer genetics. Identify cancer genes using mouse models and gene discovery by insertional mutagenesis.
  • Scott McIvor, PhD: Viral and transposon mediated gene transfer in hematopoietic and other stem cells for therapeutic gene therapy.
  • Hiroshi Nakato, PhD: Stem cell behavior, proteoglycan functions, and growth factor signaling.
  • Jeffrey Simon, PhD: Chromatin biology, epigenetics, developmental mechanisms.
  • David Zarkower, PhD: Understanding of the molecular basis of sex determination, sexual differentiation, and sex maintenance. Role of DMRT1 in control of these processes and of spermatogenesis. Evolution of sex determination. Molecular and genetic basis of testicular germ cell cancer.

Microbiology, Immunology, And Cancer Biology (MICaB)

  • Bruce Blazar, MD: Hematopoietic stem cells and prevention of GVHD in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.
  • Kristin Hogquist, PhD: T lymphocyte development from hematopoietic stem cell precursors.
  • Nobuaki Kikyo, MD, PhD: Understand the molecular mechanism of nuclear reprogramming in the context of somatic cell nuclear cloning and define regulatory network of transcription factors that maintain pluripotency.
  • Michael Kyba, PhD: Mechanisms of self-renewal and differentiation of stem cells with focus on blood and skeletal muscle differentiation.
  • Jeff Miller, MD: Studies hematopoiesis and immune system cell development with expertise in clinical translation of hematopoietic stem cells for novel immunotherapies. 
  • Jaime Modiano, VMD, PhD: Animal models of cancer stem cells and therapies.
  • Rita Perlingeiro, PhD: Pluripotent stem cells in neuromuscular disorders: potential for regenerative medicine and disease modeling.
  • Jakub Tolar, MD, PhD: Improving the safety and effectiveness of treatments using stem cell biology in regenerative medicine.

Biomedical Engineering

  • Wei-Shou Hu, PhD: Systems analysis of stem cells and regulation of stem cell differentiation.
  • Brenda Ogle, PhD: Stem cell differentiation, especially in the context of the cardiovascular system.

Neuroscience

  • Atsushi Asakura, PhD: Muscle stem cell and muscular dystrophy.
  • Walter Low, PhD: Combined cell and gene therapies for the treatment of neurological disorders.
  • Yasushi Nakagawa, MD, PhD: Neural stem/progenitor cells specification into formation of thalamic nuclei and molecular/ cellular mechanisms that control the developmental fate and plasticity of neural stem/progenitor cells.

Medicine

  • How to Apply
  • Curriculum
  • FAQs
  • How to Apply

    Who is eligible to apply for a position on the training grant?

    All individuals supported by this grant mechanism must be US citizens or noncitizen nationals (permanent residents). Students on temporary or student visas are not eligible. Pre-doctoral students must be enrolled in a graduate program at the University of Minnesota, actively work in the lab of one of the Training Grant faculty, and be in good academic standing.


    What are the expectations of the trainees?

    Trainees are expected to be committed to full-time research training. Trainees will be expected to regularly attend Stem Cell Institute seminars and journal clubs. They will also be required to present one journal club or one research seminar each year. There are required courses in stem cell biology and one elective that can be chosen from a variety of areas. Responsible Conduct of Research will be covered in the training program, and trainees in the 3rd year or beyond in their graduate program will be expected to attend and present research at a national scientific meeting.


    What are the criteria for acceptance into the program?

    Criteria include the following:

    • Academic credentials
    • Strong interest in stem cell biology research and a desire for a research career
    • Desirable personal characteristics, including integrity, perseverance, and communication skills.

    How do individuals apply to the program and what is the application deadline?

    • A call for application is sent out to Training Grant Faculty every year.

    A complete application must include the following:

    • Application form
    • A cover letter describing the status of their graduate training (i.e., years in the program, completed requirements and remaining requirements, expected date of completion).
    • A copy of their undergraduate and graduate school transcript.
    • A statement of career goals and how support from the Training Program will help to achieve those goals.
    • A one page description of their thesis research project that highlights the how this project will advance studies of Stem Cell Biology.
    • A list of publications completed or in press. This can also include Meeting abstracts and presentations.
    • A confidential letter of recommendation from the student's thesis advisor that specifically assesses the student's interest and potential in pursuing an independent research career in an area related to Stem Cell Biology. 

    These materials should be submitted to Rita Perlingeiro by e-mail at perli032@umn.edu.

    Deadline for receipt of application materials is typically, late May - early June. Decisions are made in July for traineeships beginning at the end of August.

  • Curriculum

    Suggested courses for students in Biomedical Sciences Graduate Programs

    Stem Cell Biology (SCB 8181)
    All course faculty are also faculty of this training program. Course material includes: Embryonic stem cells; biochemistry of pluripotency; neural and hematopoietic stem cells; cell production and renewal in muscle, kidney, pancreas and liver; limb regeneration. Stem cell-related ethical and legal issues; clinical cell therapy in selected areas.

    Advanced Cell Biology and Development (GCD 8161)
    Covers current concepts of and experimental approaches taken to understand basic mechanisms of development. Topics include: Model organisms, Embryology, cell fate determination, differentiation, pattern formation, polarity, cell migration, and cell interactions. Much of the course work is done by analysis of original research articles.

    Molecular Biology (BIOC 8002)
    Material covered includes: Structure/stability of nucleic acids, genome organization, chromosome mechanics (including DNA replication, recombination, and transposable elements), mechanism/regulation of gene expression, including transcription, processing, and translation, genetic/enzymatic controls, cell cycle controls, and regulation of development.

    Optional courses

    All students must complete one of the following electives, 3 credits:

    • GCD 8151 - Cellular Biochemistry and Cell Biology - 3cr - Fall
    • GCD 8131 - Advanced Molecular Genetics & Genomics - 3cr - Spring
    • PHCL 5110 - Introduction to Pharmacology - 3cr - Fall
    • BMEN - 5041 - Tissue Engineering - 3cr - Fall
    • BMEN 5351 - Cell Engineering - 3cr - Fall or Spring
    • GCD 8008 - Mammalian Gene Transfer & Genome Engineering - 2cr - Spring
    • NSc 8211 - Developmental Neurobiology - 3cr - Spring
    • MICA 8004 - Cellular and Cancer Bioloby - 4cr - Spring
    • MICA 8003 - Immunity and Immunopathology - 4cr - Spring
    • BIOC 8401 - Ethics, Public Policy and Careers - 1 cr - Spring (S-N)
    • BTHX 5325 - Biomedical Ethics - 3 cr - Fall or Spring


    Research Conference and Journal Club

    Trainees are expected to attend the Stem Cell Institute's weekly Research Conference and Journal Club, and to present at one of them during the course of each trainee year. Credit can be earned for conference attendance.

    Current conference schedules:

    Contact Lauri Andersen (ander607@umn.edu) for information about how to register for credit.

  • FAQs

    What is the T32 training grant and what is its purpose?

    The training grant is a 5-year award from the National Institute of General Medical Science (NIGMS) of the NIH. Its purpose is to provide state-of-the-art research training in stem cell biology to pre-doctoral graduate students.


    How many positions are available on the training grant?

    Four pre-doctoral positions are supported by this training grant.


    Who is eligible to apply for a position on the training grant?

    All individuals supported by this grant mechanism must be US citizens or noncitizen nationals (permanent residents). Students on temporary or student visas are not eligible. Pre-doctoral students must be enrolled in a graduate program at the University of Minnesota, currently work in the lab of a T32 faculty member, and be in good academic standing. What are the criteria for acceptance into the program?

    Criteria include the following:

    • Academic credentials
    • Strong interest in stem cell biology research and a desire for a research career
    • Desirable personal characteristics, including integrity, perseverance, and communication skills

    What is the level of stipend support for trainees supported by this grant?

    Pre-doctoral stipends are set by the student's graduate program. NIH provides a set amount; any amount over the NIH funded level to match graduate program level must be funded by the faculty mentor’s non-sponsored funds.

    The training grant can supplement tuition/fees, health insurance, travel, and trainee-related expenses. Exact amounts for each item are available upon request.


    What are the expectations of the trainees?

    Trainees are expected to be committed to full-time research training. Trainees will be expected to regularly attend Stem Cell Institute seminars and journal clubs. They will also be required to present one journal club or one research seminar each year. There are required courses in stem cell biology and one elective that can be chosen from a variety of areas. Responsible Conduct of Research will be covered in the training program, and trainees in the 3rd year or beyond in their graduate program will be expected to attend and present research at a national scientific meeting.


    Who is the faculty mentor that are listed on the grant?

    Rita Perlingeiro is the Director of the training program. Additional training faculty are listed on the program information page.


    Can additional faculty members participate?

    Additional mentors may be added, based on the research interests of trainees (e.g. trainee has a research interest outside of the current mentor research expertise and identifies an individual he/she wishes to work with). These individuals must meet the criteria outlined in application, including an extramurally funded, independent research program and a strong interest in providing stem cell biology research training.

    Interested faculty members may apply by submitting the following to Dr. Perlingeiro:

    New faculty must be approved by the training program steering committee as well as at the NIH program level.


    FAQ

    Training Faculty/Mentor Application