David Brafman’s STaR Program Receives $70K Award from Women & Philanthropy
David Brafman will be establishing the ASU Stem Cell Training and Research (STaR) program thanks to a grant from Women & Philanthropy, an ASU Foundation group which awards four ASU grants per year, including one in the field of biomedicine. The group awarded him one of the annual grants it awards to fund work by ASU faculty that is deemed to have potential for solving some of society’s biggest challenges.
Brafman, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, plans to build a comprehensive training program for stem cell engineers, paving the way for ASU and Arizona to become world leaders in the development of stem cell-based technologies and therapies.
Stem cell research is at the cusp of new treatments and therapies for millions of patients suffering from debilitating conditions such as spinal cord injuries, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. In particular, human induced pluripotent stem cells, which have the unique ability to generate all the mature cell types of the adult human body, have the ability to revolutionize the manner in which scientists and clinicians study and treat these devastating diseases.
“Human induced pluripotent stem cells can provide the cellular ‘raw material’ to study and treat many currently incurable diseases,” says Brafman. “As such, there is a high demand among ASU students, staff and faculty to pursue stem cell-related research.”
The training activities in STaR will recruit, educate and train the first generation of ASU stem cell engineers, providing a pipeline of scientists that can not only broaden, but also increase, the impact of current interdisciplinary research being conducted at ASU. Together, these activities will promote the translation of stem-cell based therapies from bench-to-bedside, resulting in new treatments benefiting patient communities in Arizona and beyond.
The STaR program will combine coursework, practical laboratory training, and internship experience which will provide ASU graduates with not only the knowledge, but also the hands-on skills required for careers in basic and translational stem cell research.
To meet this demand, Brafman has trained many scientists from various ASU laboratories in technical stem cell research methods. Along similar lines, Brafman has developed and taught the first-ever course at ASU in stem cell engineering.
Research conducted by trainees during their internship periods in the STaR program labs will lead to the generation of preliminary data to be used in competitive extramural funding proposals by Fulton Schools faculty. In turn, the STaR program will provide ASU research laboratories and the Arizona biomedical industry with a pool of highly-skilled stem cell engineers trained to overcome the unique challenges associated with the pursuit of stem-cell based translational research.
Brafman joined ASU as an assistant professor in January 2015. Prior to joining ASU, he was the Kaehr Stem Cell Young Investigator at the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine at the University of California, San Diego and the Burnham Family Foundation Fellow at the Rady School of Management.
Erik Wirtanen, [email protected]
Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering