Healthcare news is a hot topic, but long, jargon-filled descriptions of the science behind the headlines can be baffling to the public.
For science organizations like the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the state’s official stem cell research agency, it’s important that prospective voters and funders understand its work, which is why it organized an informal “elevator pitch” contest at a spring conference for its grant-funded researchers.
California voters passed Proposition 71 in 2004 to create CIRM, which uses state bonds to support stem cell research and prepare future stem cell scientists.
Grantees were invited to prepare videos of up to 30 seconds explaining their work in non-scientific terms, which resulted in 57 entrants and eight winners, including California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) alumna Anica Sayoc of Anaheim, who tied for third place in the non-lead scientist category.
Sayoc earned a B.S. in biology with an option in cell and molecular biology from CSULB in 2011. She now is in the university’s Biotechnology Certificate Program and has a CIRM-supported internship.
“Through funding from CIRM, I am currently doing research in Dr. WenYong Chen’s lab at City of Hope, studying the effects of a natural product on the drug resistance of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML),” Sayoc explained. “CML patients are traditionally treated with a specific drug, but during the late phases of their disease, they relapse upon this treatment. Our lab is trying to find different compounds that will keep their cancer cells from becoming drug-resistant in order to prevent their cancer from coming back.”
Sayoc hopes to eventually earn a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences to continue her work. “It has been and continues to be a great learning experience to have the opportunity to work in a research lab at City of Hope through the CSULB Biotechnology Certificate Program. Most of all, I am so grateful to CIRM for supporting internship programs that enable students to partake in stem cell research that may have otherwise been inaccessible to them.”
To learn more about the award-winning elevator pitches, including Sayoc’s, check out the CIRM website.