SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., December 12, 2007 The careers of many promising stem cell scientists working in California were given a boost today when the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC), the board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) approved grants totaling more than $54 million for New Faculty Awards.
The awards fund M.D. and Ph.D. scientists who have completed their residency and/or post-doctoral training and are in the critical early stages of their careers as independent investigators and faculty members at an institution. Designed to encourage and foster the next generation of clinical and scientific leaders in stem cell research, the New Faculty Awards support research across the full range of stem cell types human and animal, adult and embryonic.
Robert Klein, chairman of the governing board of the CIRM stated, “A key objective of these grants is to build a strong, statewide foundation of extraordinary young scientists and clinicians whose faculty commitment is to stem cell research. This is an opportunity to build the intellectual infrastructure that will carry this critical new field of research forward in California’s leading universities, medical schools and research institutes.”
“We are particularly excited about these grants as they support scientists in the process of establishing their own laboratories and research programs at a point in their careers when grants are typically challenging to secure,” stated Dr. Richard Murphy, Interim president of CIRM. “This funding represents our strong and ongoing commitment to making California a place where stem cell science flourishes because scientists have access to resources that support innovative research.”
The New Faculty Awards provide salary and research support for up to five years to create a stable environment for new faculty members to build innovative and robust stem cell research programs in the state of California.
The New Faculty Award applications were reviewed by the Scientific and Medical Research Funding Working Group, a panel of scientific experts with diverse areas of expertise who are affiliated with institutions outside the state of California, and patient advocates representing perspectives from a spectrum of diseases including, for example, Parkinson’s disease, type II diabetes, and heart disease. Applications were evaluated in three areas: the research plan, the Principal Investigator, and the institutional commitment. The grants were assessed on issues such as the feasibility of the research plan, the applicants potential to become a leader in stem cell research, and the institutional support for the applicants work, including laboratory space and research support.
These grants are being awarded to young medical doctors and scientists who represent Californias future and its best hope for medical breakthroughs that will reduce human suffering from chronic disease and injury. These young medical leaders are willing to commit their lives to research and these grants enable them to do that by providing the critical early funding that will drive stem cell research forward to patient therapies.
Today, the average age of a researcher receiving their first grant from the National Institutes of Health is 42 to 44 years old. This is too long to wait to test a brilliant idea that can advance medicine and as a result, we are losing a generation of dedicated medical researchers. This is a tragedy for patients and for our country. However, the grants awarded today in California are a step that can positively impact the future of medicine and advance the critical stem cell research being done by exceptionally gifted young scientists.
As announced on August 10, CIRM received 59 letters of intent from 29 institutions. Institutions with medical schools were eligible to nominate up to four candidates, while those without could nominate two.
The ICOC approved New Faculty Awards to the following Principal Investigators at several institutions:
The first scientific grants approved in April 2006 under the Stem Cell Research and Cures Act totaled $37.5 million to train 169 pre-doctoral, post-doctoral, and clinical fellows at 16 non-profit and academic research institutions. Earlier this year, the ICOC approved 74 Leon J. Thal SEED Grants totaling more than $46 million, 29 Comprehensive Research Grants totaling nearly $76.6 million and 17 Shared Research Laboratory Grants (including 6 Stem Cell Techniques Courses) totaling more than $50 million. With todays decision, the ICOC has now approved almost $260 million for research grants at 22 California institutions:
About CIRM CIRM was established in 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. To date, the CIRM governing board has approved 136 research grants totaling more than $208 million, making CIRM the largest source of funding for human embryonic stem cell research in the world. For more information, please visit www.cirm.ca.gov.
|Contact: Ellen Rose|