Jul 20, 2024  
College Catalog 2023-2024 
College Catalog 2023-2024 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

LEAPS: Stem Cell Research

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LEAPS (Liberal Arts and Professional Success)

The LEAPS programs are an optional component of the Compass General Education Curriculum.  Please see the LEAPS (Liberal Arts and Professional Success) section of the Compass Curriculum for more information.

Stem Cell Research

The LEAPS in Stem Cell Research exposes students to the scientific challenges and ethical dilemmas inherent in the burgeoning field of stem cell biology. 

Stem cells are embryonic-like cells with the ability to grow forever in culture, remain embryonic perpetually, and when triggered to do so, mature and differentiate into any cell type a researcher wishes. Stem cells present tremendous promise for studying and perhaps curing human disease such as, for example, diabetes by recreating a person’s insulin producing pancreas cells or Parkinson’s disease by recreating a person’s dopamine-producing brain cells. The scientific techniques for producing tissues from stem cells are therefore of great interest to biomedical researchers and to the biomedical industry and learning these techniques provides students with immediately marketable skills in a rapidly developing industry. 

The biomedical promise of stem cells is layered with complex ethical issues. Although we no longer destroy embryos to create stem cells, ethical dilemmas arise when stem cells can be easily “induced” from any person to make any tissue. For example, if we can restore normal body function by replacing cells that are malfunctioning, can we surpass normal body function by adding new cells that provide added abilities? Grappling with these issues at an early stage in a scientific career is the best way for students to prepare themselves for the ethical dilemmas raised by being able to create designer organs and designer humans.

Potential Careers

Completing the LEAPS in Stem Cell Research will prepare students for jobs in the $13 billion stem cell industry that is expected to grow by 10% per year for at least the next 7 years (Grand View Research, Stem Cells Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report, 2021). 

Additional career paths that would be aided by completion of this LEAPS include many physician specialties such as neurologists, cardiologists, nephrologists, etc. as well as other professionals in biomedicine including biomedical researchers, biomedical engineers, entrepreneurs, attorneys, genetic counselors, biomedical ethicists, and more.

Completion Requirements

3 courses are required for completion of this LEAPS. The LEAPS experiential component will be completed within the courses required, therefore no external internships are required. However, additional experience in stem cell research is possible through affiliated internships. Students can coordinate with the program director for more information. The Stem Cell LEAPS will typically take 2-3 years to complete, and it can be started at any time during a Wheaton students’ career.

Required Courses

These courses will cover ethical issues raised by stem cell research as well as an advanced cell methods course with an experiential learning component.

Additional courses

One stem cell biology course with a lab is required.  Choose one from below:

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