California funds the most stem cell research not eligible for federal funding

Aaron Levine from Georgia Tech published a letter in Nature Biotechnology assessing state funding for stem cell research, and he came to a conclusion that matches our own. In a press release he said:

“There’s no question that these state programs drew a lot of scientists into the field.”

That’s good news; Given the difficulty of generating new cures, we need as many scientists as possible invested in the search. Bringing in these new scientists was a major focus of CIRM’s early awards, including the Training and SEED awards, and the New Faculty awards that help young faculty build stem cell research programs in their labs.

The paper analyzed stem cell research funding by California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and New York. In the paper the team wrote:

Although the state stem cell programs differ, they each share at least two goals: advancing promising science, including research not eligible for federal funding during the Bush Administration, and returning economic benefits to their state.

Of the six states, California and Connecticut fund the highest percentage of human embryonic stem cell research, and California funds the highest percentage of research that would not have been eligible for federal funding. The grants are primarily ones focused on deriving new embryonic stem cell lines, which cannot be federally funded.

The group posted their data online:

This paper didn’t analyze the economic return based on state funding, but if it did it would have found that CIRM’s building projects are estimated to have generated 13,000 job-years of employment, bringing in $100 million in tax revenue.

I spoke with Levine recently, who commented on CIRM’s searchable list of funded awards. That table was (and continues to be) a labor of love for me, so it was nice to hear that it was useful.