UC Anticipates State Stem Cell Grants
University of California campuses should be prepared to make competitive bids for stem cell research grants funded by Proposition 71, UC Vice President of Budget Larry Hershman said on Tuesday, the San Francisco Examiner reports. Voters approved Proposition 71 in 2004 to provide up to $300 million annually for a decade to fund stem cell research.
Research institutions affiliated with the eight UC campuses received more than half of the funding for projects from the first round of grants the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine awarded in April. The grants totaled $12.1 million.
The Examiner notes that the "likelihood" of UC campuses will receive grants "is strong" because eight UC employees are members of the ICOC.
The state has sold bond anticipation notes to fund grants while legal challenges to the law are pending. Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee Chair Robert Klein said another $30 million of "bridge" bond funding would be announced in the next few weeks. Klein also said he is confident that "California can deliver" stem cell research funds even if President Bush opposes federal funding of such programs.
University of California regents on Tuesday also unanimously voted to allow UC President Robert Dynes to approve preliminary plans for new buildings and other improvements related to UC stem cell research. The plans could cost up to $1.5 million per campus (Eslinger, San Francisco Examiner, 7/19).
In related news, two consumer groups on Tuesday petitioned the federal government to revoke three patents held by the University of Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, which they say could hinder research funded by CIRM, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Johnson, San Jose Mercury News, 7/19).
WARF earlier this year announced it would seek a share of revenue if patented discoveries are made using Proposition 71 funds (Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/19). The WARF patents involve a method for isolating human embryonic stem cells discovered by a Wisconsin researcher (San Jose Mercury News, 7/19).
Bill Warren, an intellectual property lawyer in Atlanta, said the U.S. Patent Office within six months likely will decide whether to consider the challenge, noting that a full review of the patents could take several years (Downing, Sacramento Bee, 7/19).
Ed Penhoet, chair of the ICOC intellectual property task force and ICOC vice chair, said CIRM has "no opinion on the enforceability or scope" of the patents because the institute "is in the business of providing the necessary funding and infrastructure to help others move the stem cell field forward."
The Santa Monica-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights and New York-based Public Patent Foundation filed the lawsuit (Romney, Los Angeles Times, 7/19).