Stem Cell Biomanufacturing NSF IGERT Program Heads into Fourth Year
Georgia Tech's IGERT (Integrated Graduate Education Research Training) program announced its fourth class of PhD student trainees which includes graduate students from a wide variety of disciplines including the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, and the School of Materials Science and Engineering.
This NSF-funded IGERT program in Stem Cell Biomanufacturing was originally awarded to Georgia Tech in 2010 to educate and train the first generation of PhD students in the translation and commercialization of stem cell technologies for diagnostic and therapeutic applications. The field of stem cell research continues to offer a unique opportunity for engineers to contribute significantly to the generation of robust, reproducible, and scalable methods for phenotypic characterization, propagation, differentiation and bioprocessing of stem cells.
The IGERT program supports incoming Georgia Tech PhD students for their first two years of graduate school and offers a core curriculum in stem cell engineering and bioprocessing paired with elective tracks in advanced technologies, public policy, ethics, or entrepreneurship. The $3 million award will train over 30 graduate students in the first 5 years of the program and has been tremendously successful to date.
IGERT trainees have gone on to publish in top journals, as well as win prized fellowships and numerous awards, with Douglas White recently winning the Medtronic Excellence in Modeling Award and Alison Douglas receiving an American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship. IGERT students also devote large amounts of time to campus events and community outreach, participating in Buzz on Biotechnology and Girls Summit.
"This grant offers top graduate students a unique training opportunity to research and understand the control and translation of stem cells into clinically relevant therapies while engaging the larger community," stated Todd McDevitt, PhD. McDevitt, associate professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, is director of the IGERT program, as well as director of the Stem Cell Engineering Center.
Trainees are also afforded opportunities to meet with leading experts in the field through the Stem Cell Engineering Center seminar series and the annual stem cell engineering workshop, and to interact with representatives from leading companies during Georgia Tech's annual Bio Industry Symposium.
"Small group discussions with leading stem cell researchers have helped me think deeply about my research project and develop novel, innovative questions within the stem cell engineering field," remarked Torri Rinker, 2011 IGERT trainee.
The IGERT program at Georgia Tech continues to celebrate the wide success of current IGERT trainees and enthusiastically welcomes the new class.