Sunday, October 07, 2007

$122 Million Disease Team Effort, $25 Million for New Pluripotent Lines

Crank up those grant-writing machines. Another 147 million in California stem cell dollars are going to start moving into the pipeline this fall.

The Oversight Committee of the California stem cell agency last week approved concepts for two new research efforts – one to develop new pluripotent human stem cell lines and another for planning grants for disease team research.

The disease team research effort is the largest at $122 million and most complex. So this fall – probably November -- the agency plans to seek applications for up to 20 planning grants for a total of $1 million. Funding approval is expected next spring.

The idea behind the disease team approach is stimulate proposals that would use strongly managed, diverse teams to accelerate development of therapies into actual use. The teams would also have clear-cut milestones on which they would be measured.

All of you team-oriented folks -- and what scientist is not (a little humor there) – can find a short document here that was presented to the Oversight Committee last week about the effort. The approach is also discussed in the strategic plan. Available at last week's meeting, but not on the CIRM web site at this point, is another important, 59-page document called "Disease Team Workshop: Information Gathering Session (July 25-26, 2007)." If you want that one, send an email to

Receiving a planning grant is not a pre-condition to winning an actual disease team grant later, CIRM staff said. And at the insistence of some of the medical school deans who serve as CIRM directors, the Oversight Committee also added a 10 percent indirect cost allotment in the planning grant(that is the change from the short document you will find on the web).

As for the new stem cell lines, the RFA on that $25 million program will come up this fall with approval for funding also in the spring. The grants are aimed at supporting generation of new lines of pluripotent cells, said CIRM,
"new clinical grade lines of hESCs and other pluripotent human stem cells suitable for future clinical use or other biomedical applications

"new hESC lines generated using improved methods that may be optimal for differentiation along selective lineages or for studies of disease

"disease-specific, pluripotent stem cell lines to support the study of the effects of genetic variation on disease development and response to treatment

"the discovery and implementation of alternative methods for generating pluripotent human cells."
More specifically, the awards will be made to "support two areas of derivation: the generation of new human lines using excess embryos from in vitro fertilization, and derivations from other sources using new and novel methods."

In addition to the document from last week's meeting, you can find more on the subject in the CIRM strategic plan.

Both programs will have limits on the number of applications from each institution. Sphere: Related Content

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