California Takes Lead in Stem Cell Research Funding
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine on Friday announced new grant awards worth more than $75 million to fund ongoing human embryonic stem cell research projects, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Some grants also will fund projects by experienced scientists looking to pursue new research projects (Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/17).
Robert Klein -- chair of the Independent Citizen's Oversight Committee, which administers CIRM -- said the latest round of grants makes California the largest financial supporter of human embryonic stem cell research in the world (CIRM release, 3/16). Klein said CIRM is focusing early efforts on human embryonic stem cell research because of federal funding restrictions for such projects but that subsequent grants "will support a diverse range of stem cell research projects."
California voters in 2004 approved Proposition 71 to create CIRM. The agency administers $3 billion from the sale of state bonds to fund stem cell research.
Twenty-nine research teams at 12 not-for-profit organizations statewide received grants (San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/17). Awards ranged from $2.5 million to $7.5 million (Engel, Los Angeles Times, 3/17). UC-San Francisco received the most grants in the latest round of awards -- seven worth an estimated $17.4 million (Johnson, San Jose Mercury News, 3/17).
The agency also announced two additional grants worth $1.1 million for early-stage research projects. Other recipients were announced in February (Hall, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/17).
CIRM's next round of grants is expected to be announced in July. Those awards will total as much as $48.5 million to develop laboratory space for embryonic stem cell research (Downing, Sacramento Bee, 3/17).
Funding for the grants was provided through donations and state loans while a lawsuit challenging the agency's legality has frozen funding. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) in July 2006 authorized a $150 million state loan so the institute could begin funding grants while the lawsuit continues (California Healthline, 2/20).
A state appeals court has upheld the constitutionality of Proposition 71, but a subsequent appeal to the California Supreme Court is possible.
CIRM spokesperson Dale Carlson said agency officials expect the case to be resolved by the end of 2007 (Sacramento Bee, 3/17).
CIRM's release listing grant recipients and amounts is on the agency's Web site. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to access the release.