February 2016 Newsletter

-CIRM 2.0 Funding Opportunities
-CIRM Invests $42 Million to Train Next Generation of Stem Cell Scientists
-Research Spotlight: Insulin-Producing Cells from Skin a Win for Diabetes Therapies
-Stem Cell Exhibit Begins California Tour in San Diego
-President Obama Awards CIRM Grantee with National Tech Honor
-The Latest Publications by CIRM-Funded Researchers
-Upcoming CIRM Events
-CIRM Job Openings

CIRM 2.0 Funding Opportunities


  • Apply for our current Infrastructure Projects
    • Applications for the Partnering Opportunity to Create a CIRM Accelerating Center RFA (INFR1) are due April 15, 2016.


  • Apply for our Partnering Opportunity for Discovery Stage Research Projects
    • Applications for the current round of Inception Awards (DISC1) are due November, 2016.
    • Applications for the current round of Quest Awards (DISC2) are due March 15, 2016.
    • Applications for the current round of Challenge Awards (DISC3) are due March 30, 2016.




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CIRM Invests $42 Million to Train Next Generation of Stem Cell Scientists

At its January meeting, CIRM's governing Board approved funding to two popular training programs, the Bridges to Stem Cell Research and Therapy Awards (Bridges) and the Summer Program to Accelerate Regenerative Medicine Knowledge (SPARK). The Bridges program supports undergraduate and master’s level students by providing paid research internships at California universities or colleges that don’t have a major stem cell research program. The Board allocated $40.13 million for the Bridges program which will fund 14 programs at California state universities and city colleges. Each program will be able to support ten students for five years. The Board also approve $2.31 million to the SPARK awards (formerly the Creativity Awards), a summer high school stem cell research internship which will provide California institutions funding support for five to ten students each year.

Research Spotlight: Insulin-Producing Cells from Skin a Win for Diabetes Therapies

In early January, CIRM-funded scientists at the Gladstone Institutes scored a big win in the fight against diabetes. The lab of Sheng Deng published a Nature Communications study describing, for the first time, the direct reprogramming of human skins into insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells. Importantly, when these human beta cells from skin were transplanted into mice that were engineered to have diabetes, the mice could properly regulate their blood sugar levels and were protected from becoming diabetic. This study is groundbreaking because it offers a new and more efficient method to make functioning human beta cells in mass quantities. (Image: Functioning human pancreatic cells after they’ve been transplanted into a mouse. Credit: Saiyong Zhu)

Stem Cell Exhibit Begins California Tour in San Diego

On January 30th, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego celebrated the arrival of a traveling exhibit called, “Super Cells: The Power of Stem Cells”.  The exhibit, which CIRM helped develop, is a “hands-on” educational display that demonstrates the importance and the power of stem cells, calling them “our body’s master cells.” It uses animations, touch-screen displays, videos and stunning images to engage the eyes and delight the brain. The Fleet Science Center will host Super Cells until May 1, 2016 and then continues its California tour with visits to Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. 

President Obama Awards CIRM Grantee with National Tech Honor

In January, CIRM grantee and USC professor Mark Humayun was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the nation’s top technology honor, by President Obama. The award recognizes Humayun's development of an artificial retina that enables people with retinitis pigmentosa, a relatively rare kind of blindness, to see again. The invention is called Argus II which is composed of a camera mounted on glasses that send signals to an electronic receiver that has been implanted inside the eye. The receiver then relays those signals through the optic nerve to the brain where they are interpreted as a visual image. Humayun's CIRM funded work focuses on a stem cell-based treatment for another blinding disease, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), That project will soon begin clinical trials. (Photo: Dr. Mark Humayun, courtesy of USC). 

The Latest Publications by CIRM-Funded Researchers

CIRM grantees are making steady progress on understanding the fundamentals of stem cell biology and moving stem cell-based therapies toward clinical trials. Here are examples of CIRM-funded research that were published in January along with press releases from the grantees' home institution and essays from The Stem Cellar, CIRM's official blog:

January 14th - Stem Cell Reports

January 22nd - New England Journal of Medicine

Upcoming CIRM Events

CIRM Scientific and Medical Accountability Standards Working Group Workshop on Human Gene Editing
Thursday February 4, 2016, 8:30a-4:00pm, Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles
In light of recent science-policy initiatives, the Scientific and Medical Accountability Standards Working Group is specifically being asked to review CIRM policies associated with gene editing of human germ cells and embryos. One objective of this review is to ensure CIRM research continues to be conducted under the highest medical and ethical standards.
To join the audio conference dial: (800) 230-1951; Confirmation Number: 385423. Visit our website for a detailed agenda of the meeting

CIRM Board Meetings
The CIRM governing Board will hold its first in-person meeting of 2016 on Wednesday March 16th in the San Francisco Bay Area. A telephonic Board meeting will be held beforehand onFebruary 18th. Agendas and details will be posted to the meetings page 10 days before each event. A pdf list of all 2016 CIRM Board meeting dates is available for download.

CIRM Job Openings

The following positions are now open. Follow the links below to apply or go to our jobs page: