LOS ANGELES, June 5, 2007 Funding continues to flow through Californias landmark stem cell project. The governing board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) today approved grants totaling more than $50 million to finance construction of shared research laboratories at 17 academic and non-profit institutions. These facilities are scheduled to be complete and available to researchers within six months to two years of the grant awards.
The grants will fund dedicated laboratory space for the culture of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), particularly those that fall outside federal guidelines. (Current federal policy prohibits research involving hESCs isolated after August 2001 from being conducted in laboratories constructed with any federal funding.) CIRMs grants will support the development of core laboratories to be used by multiple investigators that may be shared by multiple institutions, and provide an environment for scientific research on hESCs under CIRMs medical and ethical standards.
“With today’s grants, we can work beyond the redundancies and shackles imposed by the federal government,” said State Controller John Chiang, who attended the board meeting at UCLA where the grants were announced. “We can build and fix laboratories, train staff, and stock our research facilities with equipment. We can get the dollars where they will do the most good - within the State’s academic and non-profit research institutes that can work on stem cell lines.”
The grants will provide funds for the design and renovation of laboratory space, equipment for the new research facilities, and operating expenses for three years. Six of the recipient institutions will receive additional funds to provide training courses for scientists and technical staff in the growth and maintenance of hESCs.
“Today we passed the $200 million mark in funding for embryonic stem cell research,”said Robert N. Klein, chairman of the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC), the CIRM governing board. “The grants approved today are a prelude to the $222 million in major facility grants we’ll consider early next year. It’s critically important that California provide a ‘safe harbor’ where scientists can work on new stem cell lines without endangering their institutions’ federal funding. It’s equally important that we help finance new facilities to house the growth of this emerging life sciences field. These grants establish a great collaborative model that leverages the intellectual capital of California’s leading scientific institutions for the benefit of all Californians.”
The shared laboratory grants require applicant institutions to provide at least a 20 percent match of the total cost for renovation and equipment. Recipients will receive funding for construction and equipment, in addition to three-years operating expenses. Those approved for the training course receive additional funding for three years. The CIRM received 22 applications for the grants; nine requested funding for training courses.
The grants are the final piece of the first CIRM research initiative, Innovation in Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research, which is intended to advance human embryonic stem cell research in California. The initiative was approved by the CIRM governing board in August 2006, following California Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggers authorization of a $150 million General Fund loan to the Institute. The ICOC approved more than $158 million for two sets of scientific research grants this past February and March.
The ICOC approved Shared Research Laboratory Grants to the following institutions (Note: the dollar amounts shown are the three-year budgets requested by each applicant and are subject to review and revision by CIRM, prior to the issuance of grant awards):
The first scientific grants approved in April 2006 under the Stem Cell Research and Cures Act totaled $37.5 million, and designed 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, as well as 29 Comprehensive Research Grants totaling nearly $76.6 million. With todays decision, the ICOC has now approved more than $210 million for research grants at 23 California institutions:
Governed by the ICOC, the 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 make grants and provide loans for stem cell research, research facilities, and other vital research opportunities. The CIRM is the largest source of funding for human embryonic stem cell research in the world. For more information, please visit www.cirm.ca.gov.
Contact: Dale A. Carlson