I did not know what to expect during my next 8 weeks at the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures. Such as my other peers, I was nervous, yet very excited. We walked into our first lab meeting, and as I viewed all of the individuals coming in, I wondered, who was going to be my mentor. After introducing ourselves and being introduced to the many lab members, we were escorted to attend our first lab safety training. By the end of the day, the moment that I had been waiting for had finally come. However, before I was told who my mentor was, I received astonishing news. During the start of the day, we were informed that two students were going to be working across the research lab. I was quite astonished when I found out that I was one of those students. Prior to this year, I had visited the Institute for Regenerative Cures with the Decision Medicine team. We had the opportunity to visit the research lab, and a few of my peers, including myself, had the greatest opportunity of visiting the corridors of the GMP facility (Good Manufacturing Practice facility). We had met with Brian Fury, who ironically, was my fantastic mentor during the SPARK program. By this time, I knew my experience during this internship would be a bit different than others. My project would entail working with gene therapy vectors rather than stem cells. No matter the differences, I was very excited for what was to come.
Bioreactors, what are they, and why do we use them? These were the questions I had when starting my project on expanding endothelial cells in an efficient manner. Endothelial cells play a vital role in vascular functions, and unfortunately, we do not have good models for the expansion of endothelial cells in tissue culture. My project, using a bioreactor to expand such cells. Using a hollow fiber bioreactor, a culture system with a very large surface area and a continuous media perfusion, cells are able to grow under in vivo-like conditions. Expanded endothelial cells are extremely useful for the manufacturing of expanded hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. A bioreactor has the capability to grow billions of cells, and is proven to be efficient for speeding up the process. The results provide evidence that endothelial cells can support stem cell expansion. There was so much material I had to learn about my project and the research linked with it. I am so grateful for this internship and the insight that came with it.
This summer has been full of learning and opportunities. I would have never been able to be part of or experience so much without this internship. Opportunities such as these are hard to come by for younger students, and it is crucial for the development for younger individuals for this is a great insight into medical research. Memories made during these times are what contribute in our lives and stay with us till the very end. I would like to thank CIRM for this opportunity and allowing students to partake in such prestigious programs. I would especially like to thank my mentors, Catherine Nacey, Brian Fury, and Doctor Gerhard Bauer, for always being there to clear my confusions, help me throughout my research, or to simply put a smile on my face. This internship is truly something spectacular, and I cannot wait to further my studies in stem cells and other biological sciences as I embark on my journey into science!