Stem Cell Agency Awards First Round of Research Grants
The state's stem cell agency on Friday approved its first research grants, awarding 72 grants worth $45 million to 20 institutions statewide, the Los Angeles Times reports (Engel, Los Angeles Times, 2/17).
California voters in 2004 approved Proposition 71 to create the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and provide $3 billion in taxpayer funding over 10 years for stem cell research. The funding primarily was intended to finance stem cell research, such as human embryonic stem cell research, for which federal funds are restricted (California Healthline, 2/15).
The two-year grants were selected from among 231 applications. The first round of grants is titled the Scientific Excellence through Exploration and Development grants.
CIRM Chair Robert Klein said grants will cover:
- Heart disease;
- Alzheimer's research; and
- A broad spectrum of chronic disease and injury, such as acute paralysis (Eslinger, San Francisco Examiner, 2/17).
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. A state appeals court is expected within 90 days to issue a verdict in the lawsuit.
However, Schwarzenegger on Friday said that if legal issues are not resolved this summer, the state will continue to try to provide financial support (Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/17).
The second round of research grants are scheduled to be awarded in March and will support more advanced, ongoing studies on human embryonic stem cells by experienced scientists (San Francisco Examiner, 2/17).
KQED's "The California Report" on Friday reported on the grants. The segment includes a discussion with Sarah Varney, a KQED correspondent who attended the board meeting on Friday (Baron, "The California Report," KQED, 2/16).
Audio of the segment is available online.