April 2014 Newsletter

CIRM April Newsletter

The CIRM 2013 Annual Report: a Concise, Informative and Yawn-Free Progress Update

It's often the case that annual reports can be bulky tomes that make better dust collectors than reading material. But for the past few years, here at CIRM, our approach to annual reports has been keep it concise, get to the point, make it accessible, and provide links to our website for further reading. In a mere four pages, we include summaries of our accomplishments, patients' stories of hope, our progress toward therapies, statistics on our research funding, and letters from Chairman Thomas and President Trounson. 

CIRM Approves $72 million to Accelerate Promising Projects Toward the Clinic

At its March 13th meeting, the CIRM governing Board approved $72 million for two new funding rounds designed to create a faster path to clinical trials and an enhanced commitment to support development of the most promising therapies by companies. The new $40 million Preclinical Development Award initiative aims to support projects that the agency is already funding, to help them with all the development activities needed to get a therapy ready for approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The award also allows for researchers not yet funded by the agency to apply, provided they can show they have co-funding from an outside company or organization. The Board also approved another round of funding for the Strategic Partnership initiative. The $32 million allocated will go to companies who can either provide matching funds or show they have enough money on hand to match CIRM funding. The goal is develop a partnership with a company to move a treatment through Phase 1 or Phase 2 clinical trial within 3 years.

Video: Reversing Autism in the Lab with Stem cells and the Tooth Fairy

"I look at my son a lot and feel like he’s trapped inside his own brain…He’s never said I love you…I feel like he has been stolen from me." Jen, mother of 10 year-old Milo who has a severe form of autism, shared these words during the Spotlight on Autism seminar at the March 13th CIRM governing Board meeting. UCSD researcher Alysson Muotri, the featured Spotlight speaker, describes how stem cells and the tooth fairy open a window of hope for moms like Jen who dream of an autism cure.

Koala Bears and Cancer cells - How our Hangout had Good news in the Fight Against Leukemia

What does a Koala bear have to do with finding more effective treatments for leukemia? Well, Dr. Catriona Jamieson says the connection is really quite simple and she explained it in our Google Hangout on Leukemia on March 25th. Dr. Jamieson is the Director of Stem Cell Research at the Moore Cancer Center at the University of California San Diego and a number of her research projects are already in clinical trials in patients. We were also fortunate to have Dr. Ravi Majeti of Stanford University join the live Hangout. Dr. Majeti and his team are working on a new approach that targets cancerous stem cells in acute myeloid leukemia and is hopefully going to be in clinical trials later this year. Dr. Karen Berry – a Science Officer here at the stem cell agency – walked us through some of the other really exciting work we are supporting that is at an earlier stage of development.

Watch out Miley Cyrus: CIRM’s YouTube Stem Cell Channel Tops Half a Million Views

In February, the stem cell agency's Communications team surpassed 1000 entries in our Stem Cell Research Updates blog. Then just a few days into March, we topped another social media milestone: half a million views on our YouTube video channel, CIRM TV, which debuted in January 2009. Those 500,000 views in five years don’t stack up well against any Miley Cyrus video, but considering that 100 hours of videos are uploaded on YouTube every minute, we’re gratified that a decent slice of the population is watching our videos, learning about stem cells, and staying informed about the progress of CIRM-funded research and training.

CIRM President Alan Trounson's Stem Cell Research Picks

Each month CIRM President Alan Trounson reports on advances in stem cell science by highlighting recently published papers from CIRM grantees and other leading research teams around the world.  

1700 and Counting: The Latest Publications on CIRM-funded Research

With over 1700 published discoveries, CIRM grantees are making steady progress on understanding the molecular basis of stem cell biology and moving stem cell-based therapies toward clinical trials. Here's an example of CIRM-funded research that was published in March along with a press release from the grantees' home institution and an entry from the CIRM Stem Cell Research Blog:

March 21st - Stem Cells Translational Medicine

Upcoming CIRM Events

"Lab Keys" fine art photography by Kelly Milukas

May 5th, 6-7:30pm, Public Event "Commitment to Awareness" - a Science & Art Panel Discussion: To help kick off the 2014 Regenerative Medicine Foundation conference, Kevin McCormack, the stem cell agency's Communications Director, will moderate a public panel discussion featuring patient advocates and Kelly Milukas the artist whose work is featured in an art exhibit that accompanies the meeting. The goal is to raise awareness about regenerative medicine through the visual arts. The conference will be held at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, CA.  

May 29th: The CIRM governing Board will hold its third of seven meetings of 2014. This meeting will take place in San Diego, CA. The meeting agenda and details will be posted to the meetings page 10 days before the event.

CIRM Funding Opportunities

RFA 13-04: External Innovation Pilot Program - Prior to submitting an application, a PI must submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) describing the proposed project. CIRM will evaluate the LOI -- refer to Section VIII.A. of the RFA for evaluation criteria. This RFA is targeted at only the most exceptional proposals: CIRM expects to support only one or two such projects each year.

RFA 13-03: CIRM Strategic Partnership III Awards - CIRM intends to offer repeat calls under this initiative every 6-9 months. The focus, scope and objective may differ with each solicitation. CIRM conducted a webinar for prospective applicants on August 7, 2013 to address questions about the RFA and application process. Click here to watch webinar and view Q & A.

PA 12-08: CIRM Patent Assistance Fund Awards - Application opportunities on a monthly basis until June 30, 2014
Eligibility: Only Technology Transfer Officials at current CIRM Grantee institutions are eligible to apply for funds under this program.

PA 08-06: CIRM Conference Grants - Applications for conference grants will be accepted, reviewed and approved periodically

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