Thursday, August 09, 2007

Sharpen the Pencils, Line Up the Finest Grant Writers!

Lab builders around California can expect to see the detailed requirements for $227 million in grants from the California stem cell agency in a couple of weeks.

On Wednesday, the Oversight Committee for the institute gave the go-ahead on the proposal, but with not without some changes. One boosted the funding range on the size of some of the grants. In the CIRM Institute category, the top of the range moved from $40 million to $50 million. In the Center of Excellence category, the top rose from $20 million to $25 million.

Ed Penhoet, vice chairman of the agency, said $40 million might not be enough. He said the board wanted to encourage collaboration on the labs but that if grant size were not large enough, each institution instead might submit separate applications. Jeff Sheehy noted that only one "true" consortium seems to currently exist. That is in the San Diego area and involves UC San Diego, Salk, Burnham and Scripps.

John Reed, another Oversight Committee members and president of Burnham, unsuccessfully sought to change the proposed scoring to give 20 instead of 15 points out of 100 in the "shared resources" category. He argued that would reflect the board's strong encouragement of collaboration. John M. Simpson, stem cell project director for the Foundation of Taxpayer and Consumers Rights, noted the change would help tilt scoring towards consortiums.

The board approved virtually all of the other elements of concept plan for the lab grants, and CIRM staff said the RFA would be out within a couple of weeks. Final approval of the grants is scheduled for next April, with an initial screening of the scientific portions of the applications at a January meeting of the Oversight Committee. Sphere: Related Content

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