February 2013 Newsletter

CIRM February Newsletter

CIRM's Governing Board Proposes Dramatic Changes in Response to IOM Report

On January 23rd, the CIRM Governing Board voted to endorse a framework of changes that could dramatically change some aspects of its work in order to address recommendations from the Institute of Medicine (IOM). The adopted plan will be open for public input until the March 19th board meeting when a final vote will be taken on the changed policies, regulations and by-laws. Under the package of changes, the 13 Board members appointed from institutions eligible for funding from the stem cell agency, such as those in the University of California system, would no longer vote on any grants brought before the Board but would instead abstain. The Board voted unanimously with one abstention in favor of the proposed framework after a vigorous and thoughtful debate during which even Board members who would no longer vote on funding issues expressed their support for the recommendations.

CIRM Generating $286 Million in Taxes for California and 38,000 jobs with Grants Awarded So Far

In late January, CIRM released an independently produced economic impact study showing the agency has delivered significant benefit to the state. The first $1.5 billion in committed grants is generating 38,000 job years and $286 million in new tax revenue in California through 2014. The jobs cover a wide range of industries and skills, from research scientists to laboratory assistants and staff, and include nearly 13,000 jobs in the construction and building trades. Jose Alberro of the Berkeley Research Group conducted the study, and he had full control of the conclusions in the report.

Patient Advocate Diane Winokur Sworn In as New Board Member

On January 16th, Diane Winokur was sworn in as the newest member of the CIRM governing board by Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, who appointed her to the board. Diane is the board's patient advocate representative for the ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and Multiple Sclerosis communities. Diane served on the ALS Association's National Board of Trustees for five years and is presently an officer on the Golden West Chapter's Board of Directors. Diane’s commitment springs from her own personal experiences with ALS. Her youngest son, Douglas, was diagnosed with ALS in 1995 and passed away in 1997. Her oldest son, Hugh, was diagnosed with ALS in 2005 and passed away in 2010. 

CIRM Videos Add Accessibility for Hearing Impaired and Non-English Speakers

In order to reach out to more communities in California and the world, CIRM began including English closed-captioning and non-English subtitles to its videos in January. We hope this new feature will invite the hearing impaired as well as non-English speakers to access our videos and learn about CIRM’s progress toward supporting the development of stem cell treatments for chronic disease and injury.

New Video: Living with Multiple Sclerosis, Hoping for Stem Cell Treatments

In her twenties, the left side of Nan Luke's body went numb from the bottom of her foot up to her chin. The diagnosis was multiple sclerosis (MS) and thirty years later she still experiences that numbness and has had bouts of temporary blindness, loss of bladder control, and excruciating fatigue. Although drugs can reduce MS symptoms, no cure exists. On January 23rd, Nan spoke to the CIRM governing board during its Spotlight on Disease public seminar about the challenges of living with MS and her excitement for future stem cell-based MS treatments. Nan is on the board of trustees for the Pacific South Coast chapter of the National MS Society.

New Video: Parkinson's Disease - Ask the Stem Cell Expert

The CIRM communications team visited the Buck Institute for Research on Aging to film the second installment of its Ask the Expert video series with associate professor Dr. Xianmin Zeng, a CIRM grantee who is developing stem cell-based treatments for Parkinson’s disease. CIRM communications manager, Amy Adams, asked Dr. Zeng questions sent in by our Facebook, Twitter, and Blog followers.

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. His January report includes new data demonstrating that iPS-derived cells do not trigger immune rejection, a finding that contradicts previous results. Another paper's surprising results indicate that the leprosy bacteria's mecanism of infection relies on reprogramming host cells into a stem-like state.


1300 and Counting: The Latest Publications on CIRM-funded Research

With over 1300 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 is a partial list of science journals that published CIRM-funded research in January along with press releases from the grantees' home institutions and entries from the CIRM Stem Cell Research Blog:

January 3rd - Cell Stem Cell

January 27th - Nature

Upcoming Events

Public Event: Teaming Up for Cures - Progress and Promise in Stem Cell Research

March 7th, 6:30-7:30pm Grand Ballroom Hyatt Regency San Francisco: Mix and mingle with stem cell scientists and learn about new therapies. The state stem cell agency supports teams of researchers working toward therapies in 40 different diseases. This public event will highlight a few of those teams with talks and an interactive Q&A with researchers involved in developing stem cell therapies. Learn more about the event and RSVP here

ICOC Governing Board Meeting

March 19th: The CIRM governing board will hold its 2nd meeting of 2013 at the Hilton SFO Bayfront Hotel in Burlingame. The agenda and details will be posted to the meetings page 10 days before the event.

CIRM Funding Opportunities

RFA 13-01: CIRM Disease Team Therapy Development Awards III - Letter of Intent due 5:00 pm (PDT), March 13, 2013. CIRM will conduct a webinar for prospective applicants on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 from 9:00 to 10:30 AM (PST) to address questions about RFA 13-01 and the application process. Click https://cirm.webex.com/cirm/onstage/g.php?d=804316953&t=a&EA=cschaffer%40cirm.ca.gov&ET=628fc59191fe99bc0c3c2de83424b4e2&ETR=f2ea9320851220f011aa0e3cea8afab1&RT for more information about the webinar and to register to participate.

RFA 13-02: CIRM Basic Biology Awards V -  Pre-applications due 5:00 pm (PDT), March 11, 2013
RFA 13-03: CIRM Tools and Technologies Awards III - Anticipated RFA Release Date: Fall 2013
RFA 13-04: CIRM Strategic Partnership III Awards - Anticipated RFA Release Date: Summer 2013
RFA 13-05: CIRM Early Translational V Research Awards - Anticipated RFA Release Date: Late Fall 2013

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. For more information, visit the PA 12-08 webpage.

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