Saturday, March 17, 2007

Grant Coverage Light, Bloomberg Highlights Korean-linked Award

The announcement of nearly $76 million in embryonic stem cell research grants in California generated modest media attention today – less than last month's giveaway that involved much less money. The presence of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, however, helped push the coverage of February's awards to an exceptional level. Plus they were the first awarded by CIRM.

Few surprises popped up in the papers today. But reporter Rob Waters of highlighted the Korean connections of one Los Angeles-based recipient. Waters wrote:
"CHA RMI was awarded a grant of $2.6 million. Along with its sister organization, CHA Stem Cell Institute in Seoul, it's a non-profit unit of CHA Biotech(of Seoul). The Los Angeles unit proposes to use its grant to create stem cell lines using a process known as therapeutic cloning, or somatic cell nuclear transfer.

"The CHA RMI researchers will attempt to create cloned human embryos with the cellular attributes of Lou Gehrig's disease, an incurable neurological disorder. They will try to do this by combining human egg cells whose nucleus has been removed with DNA provided by adults with the disease. The scientists will then isolate and extract stem cells from the embryos.

"'We feel a great responsibility for this project and we will pursue our research with utmost efforts,' Chung Hyung Min, a professor and the director of the project at CHA Stem Cell Institute, said in a telephone interview from Seoul. "It won't be an easy project, but we're striving so that our efforts can contribute to curing Lou Gehrig's disease and many other diseases such as Parkinson's disease."

"CHA Biotech is a for-profit entity set up to coordinate the work of academic researchers and hospital physicians centered on stem cell, gene therapy and regenerative medicine technology, according to its Web site. It's part of CHA Health Systems, also called the CHA Medical Group, which owns or is affiliated with several universities, hospitals and research institutes in Korea and the U.S."
Prop. 71 limits grants to institutions located in California, which CHA RMI appears to be. We are attempting to track down a more detailed definition of the limitation and will post it when it becomes available.

Most reporters focused on the dollars in the grants. But Jim Downing of The Sacramento Bee zeroed in on the researchers and their goals. The first two paragraphs of his story read:
"Mark Zern is trying to figure out how to grow adult human livers, more or less from scratch.

"Alice Tarantal hopes to find a way to regenerate failed kidneys."
Here are links to other stories and press releases issued by recipient institutions. We will carry links to other news releases from recipients as they come to our attention.

Steve Johnson, San Jose Mercury News

Carl Hall, San Francisco Chronicle

Reporter Terri Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune

Mary Engel, Los Angeles Times

Gary Robbins, Orange Country Register

People's Daily Online


UC San Diego

UC San Francisco

Burnham Institute

Stanford Sphere: Related Content

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