Irvine, Calif., December, 10, 2008 - The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the state stem cell agency, will be funding 23 grants to 18 institutions aimed at generating new tools and technologies to overcome barriers in stem cell research. At a meeting of the Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee, the 29-member governing board for CIRM, members voted to approve more than $19 million in funding for this round of grants.
The Tools and Technologies Awards are intended to support work that either creates new reagents and methods for stem cell research, or that scales up existing technologies—all designed to accelerate the development of critical therapies for patients with chronic disease or injury. Of the funded grants, 17 were from not-for-profit and six were from for-profit organizations.
“These awards represent the entry of the biotechnology industry into CIRM-funded initiatives to accelerate progress,” said Alan Trounson, President of CIRM.
Robert Klein, chairman of the governing board, said supporting a mix of for-profit and not-for-profit organizations capitalizes on California’s leadership in both academic science and in biotechnology. “By funding grants in both the academic and biotech sectors CIRM is building a strong network of individuals and organizations that are devoted to overcoming barriers in developing new treatments for debilitating diseases. Teaming biotech partners with not-for-profit research hospitals, institutions and universities provides a critical link in developing the therapies that patients so desperately need,” Klein said.
The board voted to continue discussion of the 17 Tools and Technologies grants that the grants working group had placed in the second funding tier. These grants were recommended for funding only if funds permitted. The board will consider these additional grants at the next board meeting.
Other ICOC Business
The board approved concepts for two upcoming grant programs. One was the Disease Team Awards, which are intended to accommodate the transition of basic stem cell biology into therapies. The multi-disciplinary teams are expected to initiate human clinical trials for a stem cell therapy within four years of receiving the award. This is a dramatically compressed timeline compared to the ten or more years that this process can normally take. The RFA for this award will be available in February. The board also approved the concept for the Basic Biology initiative, which is intended to drive innovation toward new therapy discoveries and to provide a strong research portfolio in basic stem cell biology. The RFA for this award is expected to be available later in December.
“These upcoming RFAs show the breadth of CIRM’s commitment to advancing basic research to the clinic,” said Trounson. “The Basic Biology Awards will ensure a steady influx of new ideas entering the therapy pipelines, while the Disease Team Awards will convert stem cell discoveries into clinical therapies. With these and the other grants we expect to distribute in the upcoming year, CIRM is positioned to drive the full spectrum of biomedical research, from developing the new ideas to breaking down barriers in stem cell research and bringing new therapies to the clinic.”
The board voted to impose no limits on the number of proposals for the Disease Team and Basic Biology initiatives. Klein will call a special meeting of the board to discuss details of a pre-application review process including review criteria for reviewing these proposals. This step will ensure that only the most promising, competitive, and responsive proposals require a complete grant application. This process will ensure a manageable number of applications for focused Grants Working Group review and recommendation.
The board also approved a $150,000 yearly salary for Klein, in accordance with CIRM regulations that specify a salary for the chairman. The salary constitutes a 50 percent time commitment. Klein has worked in the role for more than three years on a pro bono basis. “After three years of contributing my time to the agency without a salary, the work load and the current economy make it impossible for me to continue at the same level without compensation,” Klein said.
The board also voted to fund one additional New Cell Lines Awards grant. This application was carried over from the June 27, 2008 meeting when the governing board initially considered other applications under this RFA. The President of CIRM decided to approve a new review for this application. The new review by the grants working group resulted in a recommendation to fund the application, which ICOC voted to accept today.
The following grants were approved at today’s meeting:
Tools and Technologies
|Application Number||Institution||PI Name||Total Budget|
|RT1-01001-1||Stanford University||Blau, Professor Helen M.||$949,608|
|RT1-01012-1||VistaGen Therapeutics, Inc.||Bonham, Dr. Kristina C.||$971,558|
|RT1-01019-1||University of California, Davis||Tarantal, Dr. Alice F.||$842,149|
|RT1-01021-1||University of California, Berkeley||Tijan, Dr. Robert T.||$918,000|
|RT1-01022-1||University of California, Los Angeles||Tseng, Professor Hsian-Rong||$914,096|
|RT1-01024-1||Fluidigm Corporation||Unger, Dr. Marc A.||$749,520|
|RT1-01027-1||Gamma Medica-Ideas, Inc.||Wagenaar, Dr. Douglas Jay||$949,748|
|RT1-01028-1||University of Southern California||Wang, Dr. Pin||$951,104|
|RT1-01052-1||University of California, Merced||Cleary, Professor Michael David||$483,803|
|RT1-01053-1||University of California, Santa Barbara||Clegg, Professor Dennis O||$599,998|
|RT1-01055-1||University of California, Berkeley||Conolly, Professor Steven M.||$882,430|
|RT1-01057-1||City of Hope National Medical Center||Couture, Dr. Larry A.||$882,929|
|RT1-01063-1||University of California, San Diego||Dowdy, Dr. Steven F.||$925,200|
|RT1-01074-1||University of California, Irvine||Flanagan, Dr. Lisa A.||$871,627|
|RT1-01093-1||Novocell, Inc.||Kroon, Dr. Evert Johan||$827,072|
|RT1-01095-1||University of California, Santa Cruz||Kubby, Dr. Joel||$552,985|
|RT1-01097-1||University of California, Davis||Lam, Dr. Kit S||$835,540|
|RT1-01103-1||Scripps Research Institute||Barbas, Professor Carlos F.||$1,146,312|
|RT1-01107-1||Invitrogen Corporation||Liu, Dr. Ying||$869,262|
|RT1-01108-1||Scripps Research Institute||Loring, Dr. Jeanne F||$1,141,124|
|RT1-01120-1||University of California, Irvine||Nalcioglu, Dr. Orha||$719,798|
|RT1-01126-1||University of California, Los Angeles||Phelps, Dr. Michael E.||$914,096|
|RT1-01143-1||Vala Sciences, Inc.||McDonough, Dr. Patrick M.||$906,629|
New Cell Lines
|Application Number||Institution||PI Name||Total Budget|
|RL1-00642-1||Scripps Research Institute||Dr. Shen Ding||$1,719,468|
All Grants to Date
|Institution||Research Grants||Facilities Grants||Total Grants||Funds (Requested & Awards)|
|UC San Francisco||26||2||28||$82,378,058|
|San Diego Consortium||0||1||1||$43,000,000|
|UC San Diego||19||1||20||$33,778,528|
|UC Santa Cruz||6||2||8||$17,126,621|
|The Burnham Institute||12||1||13||$18,180,796|
|The Salk Institute||9||1||10||$16,036,730|
|UC Santa Barbara||2||2||4||$7,287,929|
|City of Hope||4||0||4||$2,918,971|
|San Diego State||1||0||1||$1,725,830|
|Vala Sciences, Inc.||1||1||$906,629|
|VistaGen Therapeutics, Inc.||1||1||$971,558|
|Gamma Medica-Ideas, Inc.||1||1||$949,748|
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.