Stem Cell Agency Funds Consortium
Scientists at four major research institutes in San Diego on Monday began a three-year training project of the San Diego Stem Cell Consortium, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Funding for the program is provided through training grants from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/9).
California voters in 2004 approved Proposition 71 to create CIRM and provide $3 billion over 10 years in funding for stem cell research (California Healthline, 12/20/06).
The consortium was formed last year when UC-San Diego and the Burnham, Salk and Scripps research institutes entered a pact to share grant money from the state stem cell agency. The agency awarded the consortium $2.48 million for the first year.
The consortium hopes to win a CIRM grant to build a joint research facility on the UC-San Diego campus. The facility would allow research scientists from all four institutes to conduct projects on human embryonic stem cell research, to which federal funding restrictions do not apply (Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/9).
"The huge response to CIRM's request for stem cell research grant proposals underscores ... the need for complete transparency in the award process," John Simpson, director of the stem cell project at the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, writes in an Oakland Tribune opinion piece. "No useful purpose is served by CIRM's penchant for secrecy," he writes, adding that applicants and their affiliations should be disclosed to "track awards and dispel worries about favoritism."
Simpson writes that applicants "want our money," concluding, "They must tell us who they are and ask for it in public" (Simpson, Oakland Tribune, 1/8).