Sunday, July 15, 2007

Thomson's New Lab Under Construction In Santa Barbara

Ever so quietly, eminent stem cell researcher Jamie Thomson is coming to California – at least part-time.

The move has attracted little public notice. The news has oozed out, much as tar seeps onto the sandy beaches of Santa Barbara, where Thomson's new lab is under construction on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

His appointment as an unpaid adjunct professor at the University of California campus there has definitely produced something less than big headlines.

But Thomson's impending presence did play an indirect role in helping to secure a $2.3 million grant for the campus from the California stem cell agency.

The CIRM review of the UCSB grant repeatedly referred to Thomson, who works fulltime at the University of Wisconsin, without naming him. It noted that UCSB, which has five Nobel Laureates, came up with $1 million to establish Thomson's lab. The review said “that the close proximity of the recently-recruited PI will keep the effort (meaning management of CIRM-funded research) state-of-the-art.”

The review continued:
“There was continued discussion on the nature of the interactions with the newly-recruited PI (Thomson). The letter from this PI describes the establishment of a satellite lab at the home institution and four collaborations, three of which have been initiated (including one with the PD), and one of which is to be initiated. This new PI offers experience in growing cells in serum-free, feeder-free conditions. How this PI will work out the situation with a satellite lab is unclear, but s/he suggests that 5-8 people will be working on-site at the applicant institution. It was noted that this PI will provide advice and consultation but there was no percent effort commitment nor any indication of how much time s/he would spend at the institution.”
We should note that the grant was not for Thomson's work.

The only California story we have seen on Thomson's appointment is a five-paragraph article by Nick Welsh in the Independent, a free weekly newspaper in Santa Barbara. Welsh quoted Dale Carlson, chief communications officer for CIRM, as saying:
"This is a great coup for Santa Barbara. He is one of the finest, if not the very finest, researcher in the field."
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1 comment:

  1. Christopher Scott5:13 PM

    What do CIRM regulations say about funding---even indirectly through support of personnel, equipment and supplies---a principal investigator who is not a full-time resident of California?

    And, any intellectual property that springs from the satellite lab will belong to UCSB (with royalty payments to the state). The University of California has a "royalty-sharing" arrangement with its faculty, where the inventor gets a percentage of the profits made by the licensee of the technology. Will James Thomson get a personal share of a invention he discovered while in California?

    Of course Thomson will take new knowledge gained from his CIRM-funded work back to Wisconsin, where he'll share it with his collaborators. On the other hand, the knowledge he'll bring to UCSB--and share with faculty and students there will be substantial.