Mentorship and Outreach

The CReM Approach to Mentorship, Training, and Outreach.

Our goal is to train the next generation of scientists and stem cell biologists to think critically, experiment rigorously, and behave ethically as proponents of ‘open-source biology.’ We focus on training across the lifetime of the scientist, from specification (deciding to become a scientist) to differentiation (training in the CReM) to maturation (our life-long duty to be available to mentor our graduates and others).
Mentorship and Outreach
Mentorship and Outreach
We are committed to increasing diversity in our trainees and faculty, particularly across BU graduate training programs, by raising funds for and participating in the following national and local initiatives:
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Program for high school interns during a six-week summer term.

  • Designed to increase under-represented minority recruitment to BU graduate training programs.
  • Includes the CReM, PiBS, and our TL1 Regenerative Medicine Training Program.

  • Broadening Experience in Scientific Training (BEST)  effort to educate under-represented minority students about careers in the biomedical sciences.
  • Broadening Experience in Scientific Training – Beginning Enhancement Track (BEST BET) Pilot award supported by the National Sciences Foundation’s INCLUDES program, extends the BEST program to undergraduate community. This program encourages partnerships with minority-serving undergraduate institutions in order to bring career exploration opportunities and site visit experiences to under-represented minority students.

  • Partnership between Boston University Medical Campus and Boston Area Health Education Center (BAHEC).
  • Provides learning experiences for Boston-area high-school students in order to offer them exposure to various careers in medicine and healthcare.
  • Exposure to Research course taught by Taylor Matte for 5 weeks in July-August 2019.

  • The CReM STEM Stars program was established in 2018 and runs for 8 weeks, each semester, at an all-girls school for students in 4th-5th grade in Dorchester, MA. CReM graduate students and post-docs implement CReM-generated curricula spanning the topics of cell biology, coding, engineering, and team-based problem solving. We emphasize that science requires creativity, originality, and can be a lot of fun! Each semester culminates in a science fair where students can invite parents and classmates to share what they've learned.
  • In addition to educational initiatives, another goal of ours is to serve as a community resource and highly interactive national advocate for patient education, expanding programs dedicated to: a) community outreach and education, b) interactions with patient and disease-focused foundations, and c) the education of the international patient community regarding the perils of unproven stem cell therapies.

  • Alpha-1 Center. Drs. Wilson and Kotton began studying AATD in 2004 as a potential target for gene therapy approaches. Their interest in AATD grew as they studied the disease and met patients at community events and in 2012 they opened the Alpha-1 Center to care for AATD patients and their families. Since that time, the Alpha-1 Center has grown into one of the largest centers in the nation for AATD-focused care.
  • Alpha-1 iPSC Repository. The CReM is the world’s largest repository for iPSCs created from AATD patients. Because these Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC) contain genetic information of the patients from whom they were created, they can be used as surrogates for patients with genetic diseases. In addition to the work done using these cells in our center, we have shared our AATD iPSCs with investigators around the world and with industry partners interested in developing new AATD therapies.
  • Support Group Visits to the CReM. Through our longstanding focus on AATD, we have developed deep roots in the Alpha-1 community. Over the years, we have welcomed patient support groups from Maine and Massachusetts to visit the lab. These visits are a great opportunity for us to share our laboratory-based work with our patients and hear from them what questions we should be thinking about!
    Bike Trek. The CReM is an active participant in a number of Alpha-1 community events, most notably the annual Escape to the Cape Bike Trek that takes place each September on Cape Cod. Each year since 2014, a team of CReM cyclists has joined the Alphas on the Cape for the 165 mile trek and the beautiful views and fellowship encountered along the way. The Trek has become a cherished tradition for our team and has allowed us to give something back to the community that has become so important to us, with over $45,000 raised by CReM Trekkers to support Alpha-1 research!
  • Various Fundraising Efforts for the Alpha-1 Foundation.

  • We have the largest repository of sickle cell disease-specific iPSCs and either directly collaborate with or are scientific consultants for each of the entities initiating the first-in-human trials of gene therapy/editing treatments for the disorder. We have also hosted several sickle cell patients and advocacy groups at the CReM.
  • Tackle Sickle Cell Casino Night: an annual fundraiser that raises money for sickle cell treatment and research at BMC; it was initiated by the McCourty twins of the New England Patriots and is supported by the BMC Development Office World Sickle Cell Day: The CReM participates in the celebration of this day by volunteering time and giving informational talks on the Boston University Medical Campus.

We have the largest repository of amyloidosis disease-specific iPSCs and attend various community outreach events that are mediated by the Boston University Amyloidosis Center.

We have established the largest repository of iPSCs from children with chILD. Additionally, we attend the annual meeting of this foundation and provide lectures to patients and their families suffering from chILD syndrome.

We are the home of the world’s largest repository of reprogrammable samples procured from patients with HPS and attend the Foundation’s annual meeting to educate patient families.

Several businesses market direct-to-consumer cell or cell-based products, usually advertised as “stem cell” therapies. Patients and care givers, health care professionals, and scientists need to be aware of the unproven nature of such interventions and the associated physical, financial, and psychological harm. The CReM is very active in bringing awareness of the potential risks associated with unproven cell-based interventions.

Here are some links to educational resources.

Unproven Stem Cell Treatments for Lung Disease
JAMA Patient Page-Stem Cell Treatments
International Society for Cell & Gene Therapy (ISCT)-Patient Resources
International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR)-Patient Resources
ISSCR-Patient Handbook on Stem Cell Therapies
EuroStemCell-What diseases and conditions can be treated with stem cells?
EuroStemCell-Considering a stem cell treatment offer?
Consumer Reports-The Trouble With Stem Cell Therapy
ISSCR – Disease Fact Sheet – COPD

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