CIRM extends support to shared labs, providing $22 million to a program that leverages grants and enables collaboration

The 17 California Institute for Regenerative Medicine Shared Laboratories will continue receiving support to train stem cell scientists and provide research assistance for an additional three years after the state stem cell agency Governing Board today voted to extend funding. The $22 million in additional support will continue services that have enabled scores of collaborations and sped stem cell research in California.

The directors of the CIRM Shared Labs wrote a joint letter to the Governing Board in support of extended funding, saying, “This program has been tremendously successful; we have established shared labs throughout the state that have provided much needed equipment for a growing number of stem cell researchers, and have been able to support experienced research and training staff.”

Board Chair Robert Klein said that the shared labs program has significantly leveraged CIRM funds. “The $4 million awarded, for example, to Stanford for its shared lab have enabled its scientists to successfully compete for $35 million of grants from numerous sources, with another $15 million in process,” he said.

At the same meeting, Governing Board members voted to accept the Governance Working Group’s recommendations on qualifications for the new Board chair. These attributes include having experience with advocacy, proven vision and leadership abilities, and prior scientific understanding and experience with governance. The Governing Board voted that their best assessment is that the position be 50 to 80 percent time, but in discussion with candidates other time commitments would be considered. The salary range for the recommended percent commitment would be $137,500 to $400,000.

The board voted on a timeline for selection of a chair that seeks submission of candidates by the California Governor, Treasurer, Lieutenant Governor and Controller by April 15 and election of the chair at the Board’s May meeting. The term of the current chair terminated in December, 2010, but Klein agreed to continue serving an additional six months while the search for highly qualified candidates continued.

“It has been an honor to serve as Chair of the Governing Board since the passage of Proposition 71 created CIRM in 2004,” Klein said. “The stem cell revolution has been launched in California with the initial human clinical trials in progress, over 700 discoveries published on CIRM grants, and over $1 billion in donor and institutional matching funds attracted to CIRM’s research and funded research laboratories.”

The Board heard responses to a CIRM request for an online publisher for a translational stem cell journal, voting to approve a proposal from AlphaMed press. The publisher has a track record of soliciting, reviewing and publishing manuscripts for the successful journal Stem Cells. They also have an existing peer review system and the financial resources to support the publication and make it self-sustaining, free from CIRM support, within five years.

“Science moves forward through publications in outstanding, peer-reviewed journals,” said Alan Trounson, CIRM President. “This new publication will provide a venue for studies that move stem cell research closer toward clinical trials. In addition to publishing new discoveries that help all scientists in their goals the journal will also take the unusual step of publishing studies considered negative, with results that did not back up the original hypothesis or that did not show a new path to therapies, which will save other scientists the time of carrying out those experiments.”

Finally, the Board voted to support a Tools and Technologies II application 1985 to Martin Gabriel Martin from the University of California, Los Angeles that had been held over from the previous meeting. The $ 1,783,250 award brings the total funding for those awards to $34.7 million.


About CIRM: CIRM was established in November 2004 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. A list of grants and loans awarded to date may be seen here:

Don Gibbons
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