Friday, August 10, 2007

Fifty-nine Scientists Reach for CIRM's Golden Ring

The odds do not appear to be too bad in the California stem cell agency's new and generous $85 million faculty award program. It could make 25 stem cell researchers quite happy this holiday season.

Fifty-nine persons filed letters of intent to apply for the awards that could run as high as $3 million annually. CIRM could give out as many as 25 grants, if it decides it has that many worthy candidates. That, of course, means one out of 2.36 applicants could be funded.

The scientists come from 29 California institutions, whose names were not immediately disclosed. We have asked for the names of the institutions and will carry CIRM's response when it is forthcoming.

CIRM's press release today said,
"New Faculty Awards will fund the research of promising M.D. and Ph.D. scientists in their early years as independent lead investigators and faculty members. They are intended to develop a new generation of clinical and scientific leaders in stem cell research.

"While previous CIRM research grants focused on human embryonic stem cell research, the New Faculty Awards will support research across the full range of stem cell types – human and animal, adult and embryonic."
The schedule calls for the awards to be approved at the board's December meeting. The deadline for applications is Aug. 30 but those who did not file letters of intent are out of luck. Between now and then, the applications will be reviewed behind closed doors by a group of out-of-state scientists and some members of the CIRM Oversight Committee, who have filed public economic disclosure statements. However, the scientists involved in the review do not have to file public statements. They file secret economic disclosure statements with CIRM. Their private statements are also aimed at identifying potential professional conflicts.

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