San Francisco, August 2, 2006—Twelve days after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s announcement of a $150 million loan to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), its oversight board responded with a new proposal funding human embryonic stem cell research at California’s non-profit research institutions.

The Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee (ICOC) approved a proposal for three Requests for Application (RFAs):

  • Comprehensive Research Grants—four-year grants to investigators with a record of accomplishment in human embryonic stem cell research or closely-related field that relate to a long-term therapeutic goal;
  • Seed Grants—two-year grants to fund innovative ideas by scientific investigators who are new to the field;
  • CIRM Shared Research Laboratory Grants—grants for dedicated laboratories for culturing human embryonic stem cells including core equipment and trained personnel. Additional grants in this category will be made for a course to teach culturing methods.

All grants will be made on a competitive basis to ensure that the best scientific proposals are funded. The ICOC will approve all funding decisions following scientific peer review and recommendations by the Scientific and Medical Research Funding Working Group and the Facilities Working Group, as appropriate.

“The Governor’s commitment to this science has electrified the field and given hope to millions that the promise of stem cell research will move forward in California,” said ICOC Chairman Robert Klein. “The board’s decision to focus on human embryonic stem cell research will address the critical funding gap created by the paralysis of federal policy.”

Topics to be considered in the new RFA will include but are not limited to:

  • Self-renewal and differentiation of human embryonic stem cells;
  • Derivation of new human embryonic stem cell lines, including disease-specific lines;
  • Assessment of tumorigenicity of human embryonic stem cells and derived cells;
  • Reprogramming of adult human somatic nuclei;
  • Studies related to identification, storage, maintenance, stability and storage of human embryonic stem cells.

“The board’s decision will allow CIRM to jump-start human embryonic stem cell research in California,” said CIRM President Zach Hall. “We have the infrastructure and policies in place to manage this exciting program in a responsible way for the people of California. We can now advance the goal set by California voters—funding the best science that leads toward therapies.”

Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Program Preliminary Budget
Year 1 $69.5 million
Year 2 $37 million
Year 3 $25 million
Year 4 $20 million
Total $151.5 million

The first two years of the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Program is intended to be funded from the loan from the State of California initiated by the Governor, with the anticipated general obligation bonds funding years three and four. An additional RFA is expected later this year which can address adult, cord blood and other critical stem cell research. The State loan will be available to fund this RFA as well.

The ICOC wrote a mission statement, guiding values and strategic principles for the scientific strategic plan, which is scheduled to be presented for formal approval at the next board meeting in October. The board created a slogan for the program: “Turning stem cells into cures.”

The board also approved final regulations for Medical and Ethical Standards to guide CIRM-funded research and conflict of interest regulations for advisory working group members. They will have the force and effect of California law pending final review and publication by the California Office of Administrative Law.

About CIRM

Governed by the ICOC, CIRM was established in 2004 with the passage of Proposition 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative. The statewide ballot measure, which provided $3 billion in funding for stem cell research at California universities and research institutions, was approved by California voters, and called for the establishment of an entity to 2 make grants and provide loans for stem cell research, research facilities, and other vital research opportunities. For more information, please visit

CIRM Contact: Contact: Kirk Kleinschmidt
  (415) 396-9100