“I sit at the bridge between pure discovery research of new ideas and potential products.”
In this heyday of genetic discovery and regenerative cell therapies, the promise of impacting lives is very real.
“I love working in the field of research in general, but specifically I really love working on projects that have a direct impact on advancing medicine,” says Nate Manley, Ph.D., a neurobiologist with a lifelong passion for biology. Manley teaches Stem Cell Biology, a five-week evening course starting this week.
The class, which explores the exciting potential of stem cells and their emerging presence in medicine, gives students a sweeping introduction to ongoing discoveries and new biotechnologies, as well as a view into recent explosive industry growth and the multitude of job prospects available to people of all backgrounds.
It’s geared to “anybody that is contemplating a career in this field and people who are just curious about the potential of stem cells for transforming medicine and the process of how companies are translating research into manufacturable therapies ready for the clinic,” says Manley, associate director of neurobiology at Asterias Biotherapeutics, a Fremont-based company developing stem cell therapies for neurological injury and cancer.
“I sit at the bridge between pure discovery research of new ideas and potential products,” Manley says. “It feels so meaningful that I come to work excited to do that every day.”
Era of discovery
In designing Stem Cell Biology, Manley is reaching out to people who want to better understand the emerging industry at a time of tremendous advancement.
The overall regenerative medicine market is one of the fastest growing areas of biotech. One analyst projects it to grow to $66 billion by 2022; another biotech company projects a market value of $67 billion globally by the end of 2019.
“California is experiencing a really unique magnitude of growth stimulated largely by (California Institute for Regenerative Medicine) CIRM,” says Manley, referring to the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative, which created CIRM to fund stem cell research in the state. The agency began making small awards in 2008 and, in 2015, ramped up awards to spend millions on “faster, more efficient systems and programs that place added emphasis on speed, partnerships and patients.”
Silicon Valley biotech
The funding has translated to a huge demand for new talent on the academic front, drawing scientists like Manley to the state to pursue research as well as the establishment of premier stem cell labs in the state that are training people with state-of-the-art technology.
“Now what we currently see is this concentration of biotech companies focused on stem cell therapy and stem cell medicine here in the Bay area and throughout California,” Manley says.
In Stem Cell Biology, students will focus on a different area of stem cell biology each week, covering the science itself—what is our current understanding of the different types of stem cells and how they can address a wide range of injuries and diseases, as well as the business side—the companies spearheading discovery, government regulation of candidate treatments, intellectual property considerations, and how to turn a stem cell therapy into a manufacturable, commercially-viable product. The course will end with discussion about opportunities in the bio tech field.
“We will talk about how you get your foot in the door.”
ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR
NATE MANLEY, Ph.D., is associate director of neurobiology at Asterias Biotherapeutics, a Fremont-based company developing stem cell therapies for neurological injury and cancer. Prior to joining Asterias, he was an academic researcher at Stanford University School of Medicine in the Biology and Neurosurgery departments. While at Stanford, his research focused on the development of gene- and cell-based therapies for stroke, emphasizing the use of preclinical models to assess product efficacy and safety. He has published numerous scientific papers and earned an Excellence in Teaching award while at Stanford. Outside the lab, Nate enjoys bay area excursions with his family and exploring the interface between science and art.