USC is offering a new two-unit class in spring 2015, MEDS 380 Stem Cells: Fact and Fiction, which will explore contemporary topics in stem cell biology and innovative future applications that can close the gap between scientific reality and science fiction predictions.

The class will be an elective for a minor in health care studies, but it is open to all majors who have taken or have credit for a general biology course. MEDS 380 will incorporate aspects of the liberal arts with hard sciences such as biochemistry and organic chemistry.

“This is almost a course that students couldn’t even fathom because science students are so used to the regular chemistry, biology, organic chemistry and all the typical pre-health classes,” said Erin Yamauchi, program specialist for the health care studies minor.

Yamauchi welcomed the involvement of Gage Crump, PhD: “We had a professor who has significant background in stem cells and who also wanted to incorporate his interest in science fiction to really develop students’ understanding of how science and the creations of science — research and discovery — relate to a larger context, to literature and social issues,” she said.
A USC Stem Cell researcher, Crump looks forward to the interdisciplinary effects of the course.

“There’s been a real initiative to try to have collaborative efforts with people in other schools throughout USC, particularly the arts department, because these ideas of stem cells, genetic engineering and regeneration capture the public’s attention,” he said.

— Linda Xu