Program Overview

The Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine offers a Minor in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. The Minor provides focused course work in developmental biology, animal regeneration, stem cell science, and regenerative medicine, as well as exposure to laboratory methods in stem cell science.

The Minor is designed for undergraduates interested in the scientific, ethical, legal, regulatory, and cultural implications of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. The course work required for the Minor will prepare undergraduates for a diversity of careers in research, health care, regulatory affairs, intellectual property law, science communication, biomedical journalism, and many other related fields.

Learning Objectives

  • Describe foundational concepts in developmental and stem cell biology
  • Explain the relationship of work in animal models to the eventual implementation of regenerative medicine in a patient population
  • Develop critical thinking skills by analysis of experimental data in published literature
  • Communicate the process and challenges of bringing new stem cell therapies to patients
  • Conduct modern lab exercises in developmental and stem cell biology
  • Explain the moral and ethical issues related to stem cell science
  • Develop computational skills for analyzing stem cell datasets

The Minor requires a minimum of 16 units and welcomes undergraduates from science and non-science backgrounds. Substitutions may be allowed. Please contact the program advisor Louise Menendez ( ) to customize your minor course plan.

Required Courses

  • MEDS/SCRM 380 Stem Cells: Fact and Fiction (2 units, Spring)
  • SCRM 386 (previously known as MEDS/SCRM 335) Vertebrate Development and Regeneration (2 units, projected for Fall 2023)
  • SCRM 487 (previously known as BISC 486) Regenerative Medicine: Principles, Paradigms, and Practice (4 units, Fall)

Elective Courses

  • SCRM 310L Laboratory Techniques in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology (4 units, Fall)
  • SCRM 388 Gene Editing and Gene Therapy (2 units, projected for Spring 2024)
  • SCRM 490 Independent Research (1-4 units, projected for Fall 2023)
  • SCRM 515 Bringing Stem Cells to the Clinic (4 units, Spring)
  • QBIO 401 Introduction to Computational Analysis of Biological Data (4 units, Fall)
  • BME 410L Introduction to Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering (4 units, Spring)
  • BISC 480L Biology of Development (4 units, Spring)

Descriptions of Select Courses Offered by SCRM (Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine) Faculty

SCRM/MEDS 380 Stem Cells: Fact and Fiction Stem cells have captured the imaginations of scientists, physicians, and the general public for their ability to revolutionize not only how we treat diseases but also how we understand the foundations of life itself. This course discusses how stem cells and regenerative medicine have been portrayed in culture, the scientific underpinnings of what is currently possible, and visions into the future of this field. A special emphasis will be placed on the scientific basis of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.

SCRM 386 Vertebrate Development and Regeneration The transformation of a single cell, the fertilized egg, into a mature organism represents one of the most fascinating, complex, and mysterious processes in biology. This course will introduce the fundamental biological processes that function in the development of organisms. The course will focus on basic concepts of how the early embryo forms, how cells begin to specialize using cell-cell communication and extracellular signaling to alter gene expression and developmental fate, and how the body axes and organ systems are determined.

SCRM 310L Laboratory Techniques in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology This laboratory course focuses on using modern techniques to study both the properties of stem cells grown outside the body and their potential roles during development and regeneration. Students will design experiments using embryonic stem cells, learning how to propagate them, control their cell fate, and assess their differentiation. They will also use model organisms to study the role of gene function during embryogenesis and regeneration. The course is a great introduction to experimental design for those wishing to continue in independent research through SCRM 490.

SCRM 388 Gene Editing and Gene Therapy The gene editing revolution has opened many doors for scientists studying disease. This course will cover the various technologies and biological processes involved in gene editing. We will cover some critical advancements in research that led to the Nobel prize winning discovery of CRISPR gene editing. The course will illustrate the clinical translation of gene editing into gene therapies for various diseases, with an emphasis on the past, present, and future of clinical trials involving gene therapy.

SCRM 490 Independent Research This course enables undergraduate students to pursue independent research in the field of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. Students will conduct a research project and share their research at the end of the semester in an oral or written presentation. Under guidance of a faculty mentor, students will gain valuable experience in laboratory techniques, experimental design, and the process of scientific investigation. Registration is available by nomination and expressed consent from the student’s faculty advisor.

SCRM 515 Bringing Stem Cells to the Clinic This master’s-level lecture course is open to upper-level undergraduates and will address the business, legal, ethical, manufacturing, and regulatory aspects involved in moving stem cells or related products into clinical practice. Topics include a general overview of the drug discovery process, licensing, and technology transfer; manufacturing cellular products and GMP; FDA approval for clinical trials; regulatory science and ethics; and the role of government in drug development. This class will be taught by a team of experts in the field.