Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Rules Approved for Millions in Lab Grants

After hearing statements that new lab space is running from $500 to $800 a square foot, a panel of the California stem cell agency Monday approved procedures to move quickly on laboratory grants to be awarded early next year.

The Facilities Working Group, in only its second meeting ever, approved criteria and bylaws that will go before the Oversight Committee for approval Oct. 11.

That will set the stage for a round of millions in grants for small-scale renovations of labs so that they can perform embryonic stem cell research.

Only a few changes were made in the selection process and criteria posted earlier on CIRM's web site. Added to the criteria were consideration of how soon a project can be operational and the record of the grant applicant in terms of staying on budget and completing projects on time. The exact language will be worked out and posted on the CIRM web site, probably on Wednesday.

The panel amended the bylaws to ensure that alternate members of the facilities group could vote on grants. The working group also indicated it would insert language to bar group members from discussing specific grant applications with the applicants once the proposals were submitted.

The group discussed a provision in the bylaws concerning the requirement of matching funds from applicants, giving preference to applicants with higher matching amounts. The issue involved whether applicants could get credit for money spent on the project prior to the grant. Just how that is all worked out will probably have to wait for the Oversight Committee meeting.

The agency is considering making as many as 15 grants, possibly up to $2 million per year. The current plan is to seek applications later this month with approval in March or April.

The agency can make about $300 million in facilities grants. Criteria for larger projects will be developed next year. Sphere: Related Content

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