Stem Cell Agency Awards First Grants
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine on Monday issued its first grants, totaling $12.1 million, to 16 research institutions, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The grants will be used to train 169 students in pre- and post-doctoral and clinical programs for stem cell research (Allday, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/11).
Eight University of California campuses received grants of between $374,730 and $1.2 million apiece. The California Institute of Technology, Stanford University and the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles also received grants (Elias, AP/Contra Costa Times, 4/11).
In addition, four not-for-profit research institutes in the San Diego area received a total of $2.48 million in the first year of a three-year training grant program (Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/11). The four institutes comprise the San Diego Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, formed last month to create a multidisciplinary center for stem cell research (California Healthline, 3/21).
CIRM officials sold $14 million in bond anticipation notes to fund the first round of grants, while litigation is pending over the constitutionality of Proposition 71 (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 4/11). Voters approved Proposition 71 in November 2004 to fund stem cell research, but none of the $3 billion in bonds has been issued because of the lawsuit (Marshall, New York Times, 4/11).
A decision is expected soon in the case, but appeals could delay funding until at least 2007, the Los Angeles Times reports. Bond anticipation notes will be repaid only if the judge rules in favor of CIRM (Romney, Los Angeles Times, 4/11).
CIRM Chair Robert Klein said he is close to securing an additional $32 million from different sources to continue funding the agency through the end of the year (Johnson, San Jose Mercury News, 4/11).
In related news, scientists from the University of California-San Diego, the Australian Stem Cell Centre and Monash University in the Australian state of Victoria will collaborate on stem cell research projects under an agreement expected to be announced on Monday, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Scientists involved in the collaboration do not yet know whether they will apply for grants under Proposition 71, which voters approved in 2004 to fund stem cell research. A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the proposition has prevented any funds from being released.
UCSD Vice Chancellor of Health Sciences Edward Holmes said he did not know how the new collaboration would affect the recently announced SDCRM, which plans to apply for Proposition 71 grants (Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/10).
Californians "should not sit by while the biotech industry makes a run at a share of $3 billion in Proposition 71 funds that are already being described as 'almost like free money' in venture-capital circles," John Simpson, stem cell project director for the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, writes in a San Jose Mercury News opinion piece. Simpson continues, "We are entitled to insist upon maximum public benefit for our investment," and intellectual property rules "must be based on affordability, accessibility and accountability" (Simpson, San Jose Mercury News, 4/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.