CIRM Announces New Faculty II Awards to Support Early Careers of Promising Stem Cell Researchers

PALO ALTO, Calif., August 13, 2008 - The next generation of stem cell researchers in California got a $59 million boost today, with New Faculty II Awards flowing to 23 promising California researchers who are early in their careers.

The New Faculty II Awards is the second round of CIRM funding to support M.D. and Ph.D. scientists who are at critical early stages of establishing careers in stem cell research. Investigators funded by these grants receive salary and research support for five years, creating a stable environment for building innovative research programs at a point in their careers when funding can be difficult to obtain. The average age of a first-time recipient of funding from the National Institutes of Health is 42 to 44 years.

 Robert Klein, chairman of the ICOC, said supporting these young faculty members is essential to establishing a strong generation of scientists in California whose focus is stem cell research. “A critical part of CIRM’s success relies on creating a broad foundation of scientists and clinicians who are committed to stem cell research and who are committed to delivering stem cell therapies to patients. Without California’s funding‚ the gap in federal funding would eliminate an entire generation of new clinicians and scientists‚ “ he said. Klein continued, “The average age for a physician scientist to receive their first grant from the National Institutes of Health is now 43 years old. Who would dedicate their life to a field where they could not have a chance to prove the value of their ideas until they were 43?”

 This second round of New Faculty Awards builds on the 22 grants given out in December 2007. Today’s grants fund 12 scientists and 11 physician scientists. In each case, funded researchers could work with any type of stem cell including adult or embryonic, animal or human. “We expect these awards to play asignificant role in changing the career trajectory of funded researchers, encouraging talented young investigators to pursue careers in stem cell research, ” said Dr. Alan Trounson, president of CIRM. “I’m pleased that great research has the opportunity for funding. We now have a very high caliber of new faculty with a total of 45 awards from two independent RFA rounds.”

The board postponed final decision on 31 grants in Tiers 2 and 3 until its September meeting. Nine grants in Tier 2 will be considered individually at that meeting. The Grants Working Group recommends Tier 2 for funding “if funds are available”.Three of today’s approved grants were moved from Tier 2 into Tier 1 and funded. 

CIRM received 54 applications from 32 institutions. Institutions with an accredited medical school could recommend up to five faculty members minus the number of New Faculty I awards received.Other institutions could nominate up to two faculty members minus the number awarded in the New Faculty I competition.This second round of New Faculty awards differs slightly from the first round in the focus on recruiting promising new physician-researchers to the field of stem cell research, and in requiring funded scientists to name mentors who will guide them toward establishing successful, productive careers in stem cell research.

 

Other ICOC business

In addition to awarding New Faculty II grants, the ICOC considered two recommendations from the Medical and Ethical Standards working group. The first established a process for petitioning the ICOC to allow specific hESC lines created before November 2006 to be allowed for use in CIRM-funded research. >Currently, some lines are unavailable for use because current regulations apply retroactively. The second recommendation governs the use of embryos created for reproductive purposes before August 13, 2008 for which the original IVF client compensated the donor of the sperm or egg.

The ICOC set an interim definition for California suppliers, which refers to companies that supply grantees with products and services in CIRM-funded research and facilities grants. CIRM grant recipients have a goal of purchasing at least 50% of products and services from California suppliers. CIRM will now begin the process of formally adopting a permanent regulation, forecast to take approximately 6 months.

The following grants were approved at today's meeting: 

PI Institution Application Number Total Requested Budget
Blelloch, Dr. Robert Hector University of California, San Francisco RN2-00906-1 $3,029,897
Bruneau, Dr. Benoit G. The J. David Gladstone Institutes RN2-00903-1 $2,847,600
Chang, Dr. Ching-Pin Stanford University RN2-00909-1 $3,155,931
Crump, Dr. Gage DeKoeyer University of Southern California RN2-00916-1 $2,396,871
Gomperts, Dr. Brigitte N. University of California, Los Angeles RN2-00904-1 $2,381,572
Grikscheit, Dr. Tracy Cannon Children's Hospital of Los Angeles RN2-00946-1 $3,240,000
He,Dr. Lin University of California, Berkeley RN2-00923-1 $1,499,994
Huang, Dr. Yadong The J. David Gladstone Institutes RN2-00952-1 $2,847,600
Jamieson, Dr. Catriona University of California, San Diego RN2-00910-1 $3,065,572
Klein, Dr. Ophir David University of California, San Francisco RN2-00933-1 $3,075,251
Knoepfler, Dr. Paul Stewart University of California, Davis RN2-00922-1 $2,158,161
McCloskey, Dr. Kara Elizabeth University of California, Merced RN2-00921-1 $1,706,255
Monuki, Dr. Edwin Shinichi University of California, Irvine RN2-00915-1 $2,994,328
Parast, Dr. Mana University of California, San Diego RN2-00931-1 $3,078,580
Passegue, Dr. Emmanuelle University of California, San Francisco RN2-00934-1 $2,274,368
Reiter, Dr. Jeremy F. University of California, San Francisco RN2-00919-1 $2,259,092
Ren, Dr. Bing Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research RN2-00905-1 $1,726,564
Ribas, Dr. Antoni University of California, Los Angeles RN2-00902-1 $3,072,000
Varghese, Dr. Shyni University of California, San Diego RN2-00945-1 $2,300,569
Willenbring, Dr. Holger University of California, San Francisco RN2-00950-1 $3,032,510
Ying, Dr. Qilong University of Southern California RN2-00938-1 $2,413,650
Yu, Dr. Benjamin D. University of California, San Diego RN2-00908-1 $3,056,649
Zayas, Dr. Ricardo M. San Diego State University RN2-00940-1 $1,725,830

 

Institution Research Grants Facilities Grants Total Grants Funds (Requested and Awarded)
Stanford University 30 2 32 $93,896,310
UC San Francisco 27 2 29 $82,378,058
UCLA 19 2 21 $51,315,992
UC Irvine 16 2 18 $51,228,810
USC 12 2 14 $48,467,604
San Diego Consortium 0 1 1 $43,000,000
UC Davis 7 2 9 $35,766,586
UC San Diego 18 1 19 $32,853,328
UC Berkeley 5 2 7 $29,454,489
Buck Institute 2 2 4 $25,429,364
Gladstone Institutes 10 1 11 $18,787,142
The Burnham Institute 12 1 13 $18,180,796
UC Santa Cruz 52 2 7 $16,573,636
The Salk Institute 9 1 10 $16,036,730
CHLA 5 1 6 $11,701,083
Scripps 4 1 5 $9,317,989
UC Merced 3 1 4 $8,010,498
UC Santa Barbara 1 2 3 $6,687,931
UC Riverside 3 1 4 $6,055,762
Ludwig 3 0 3 $2,473,053
CalTech 1 0 1 $2,071,8233
City of Hope 3 0 3 $2,036,042
San Diego State 1 0 1 $1,725,830
HBMRI 1 0 1 $714,654
CHORI 1   1 $55,000
Novocell, Inc. 1   1 $48,950
Cedars-Sinai 1   1 $46,886
Totals 200 29 229 $614,314,346

 

About CIRM:
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) was established in 2005 with the passage of Proposition 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act. The statewide ballot measure, which provided $3 billion in funding for stem cell research at California universities and research institutions, was overwhelmingly approved by voters, and called for the establishment of an entity to make grants and provide loans for stem cell research, research facilities, and other vital research opportunities. To date, the CIRM governing board has approved 253 research and facility grants totaling more than $635 million, making CIRM the largest source of funding for human stem cell research in the world. For more information, please visit www.cirm.ca.gov.

 

Contact:         Don Gibbons
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  415-740-5855 (mobile)

 

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