MiraCosta College Receives Grant to Support Students Pursuing Stem Cell Careers



MiraCosta College has received a state grant of almost $2.9 million that will be used to offer internships, mentoring, and financial support to encourage students to pursue careers in stem cell research and manufacturing.


The college was one of 16 California public colleges and universities that received grants totaling $46 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the state’s stem cell agency that was created in 2004 following passage of a $3 billion bond measure to encourage stem cell research.


Mike Fino, dean of mathematics and sciences at MiraCosta College, said students will be placed in internships, partner with a mentor working in the stem cell industry, and receive financial support. “This will broaden participation,” he said. “We will bring more students who are underrepresented into the fields of regenerative medicine and cell-based manufacturing and help them be successful.”


Students who are working toward a bachelor’s degree in biomanufacturing at MiraCosta College will be eligible to participate in the program. Two-thirds of the grant money will go directly to students, with each student in the program receiving about $68,000 in support over two years.


MiraCosta College and Solano Community College in Fairfield were the only community colleges to receive the state grants. Each college received $2,894,500 to fund similar internship and mentoring programs known as COMPASSCreating Opportunities through Mentorship and Partnership Across Stem cell Science.


The grants recognize that the field of stem cell therapies and research is rapidly expanding as California positions itself to be a leader in the area. “As this field grows, we’re going to need that workforce,” Fino said. “We’re going to need people with specialized skills, knowledge, and abilities to manufacture these stem cell therapies.”


According to Fino, the college will immediately begin developing an application process so students can join the program for the spring 2023 semester. The program will accept a total of 25 COMPASS scholars, through three cohorts, until the grant concludes in 2027. He noted that, to maximize inclusion, the grant has additional funding available to provide accommodations to disabled students who need assistance.


Fino said he is honored that MiraCosta College was selected for the award along with universities in the California State University and University of California system. “We are here on behalf of our community and our students,” shared Fino. “This grant is for them, so they have pathways into a growing high-wage field.”

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