CIRM gets with times, goes electronic

The end result of stem cell research – the cures, that is – would never come to be if it weren’t for all the people working behind the scenes to support the science and the grant-making. In this post I want to acknowledge a big step CIRM recently took in making the administration that much easier for our grantees and for us.

Once upon a time, a scientist who wanted funding from CIRM filled out a much-despised, convoluted, intricate Acrobat form. They printed multiple copies, and trusted their luck to the postal system to get it to CIRM by the deadline. It worked, but it’s 2011 and we’re SO over paper.

As of our most recently posted RFA (Disease Team Therapy Development Awards) we’re all electronic. Grantees fill out an application online. If their application gets funded, the grantee can manage that grant online. Progress reports? Well, they still have to pull together the data, but it can be submitted online. Publications? Report them online. New applications? They go into your user account and you can manage all those grants from the same place. Time to submit a new form? No problem, CIRM makes sure there’s a notice in your account. Less time battling forms means more time doing research, which is good news for all people eager for new stem cell therapies.

I’m not a grantee, so these miracles are all a bit abstract. However, I do know people inside CIRM are looking forward to not taking angry calls from grantees who are frustrated with our forms. And they are looking forward to having that data automatically in our database rather than needing to import it from PDF.

The public will start seeing the benefit of these electronic developments over the next few months. Information that’s in our database can also be displayed on our website. I’m excited to start posting progress information and publications as part of our grant summaries. Stay tuned.

– A.A.