Sunday, February 13, 2005

About $90 million in First Round Grants

California's stem cell agency is preparing to ladle out something in the neighborhood of $90 million in grants in the first cycle of what some call the stem cell gold rush.

Based on “conceptual blueprints” prepared by CIRM, most of the money –roughly $60 million – will go for grants for “centers of excellence.” Another $20 million or so will aim at creating 'intellectual infrastructure.” Up to $10 million is slated for seed grants.

Barred from consideration during the first cycle of grants are large “individual initiated” proposals as well as proposals from commercial firms and proposals for clinical research. Those apparently will be considered after standards for research, conflict of interest and intellectual property are developed.

The outline of the first cycle of grants is “evolutionary,” according CIRM documents. What that seems to means is that all of this information is subject to change without notice and probably is already out-of-date. The timetable for proposals is not available but CIRM officials have said they want to distribute some cash by May.

In fact, the document on which this article is based is no longer available on the CIRM site. It was removed with no explanation posted on the web site nor was it replaced with more recent information.

That said, here is a summary of the various categories:

Centers of excellence: Annual grants of $5-$7 million each, including costs of leasing. Bidders are expected to be consortium of institutions or a team of scientists at a single institution.

Intellectual infrastructure: Grants aimed at training post-docs, medical students, young faculty “to populate the field of stem cell research with excellent scientists and physicians.”

Seed grants: Individual grants of about $50,000 to $150,000 for new or established scientists so they can “gather preliminary data on a new idea.” These grants are also aimed at “scientists established in a field other than stem cell research who have promising ideas that, subject to documentation, would justify refocusing their efforts in the stem cell research field.”

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