Thursday, May 08, 2008

Pravda to Marin: A Look at Media Coverage of CIRM's Stem Cell Grants

The California stem cell agency's $271 million lab construction effort gained additional attention today, ranging from Pravda in Moscow to Merced in the fields of California's agricultural central valley.

Some stories, including those in the New York Times and on the Xinhau news service, did not use CIRM's $1.1 billion figure for the total impact of the grant program, which includes additional contributions required by CIRM of the applicants and other expenditures that are linked to the labs.

Many of the stories in California focused sharply on the local angles in the program, rather than the national and international implications. In an odd story, Pravda, for reasons difficult to understand, zeroed in on UC Davis.

One editor for an international news organization told us he considered the grant announcement a "local" story, which I told him was shortsighted. Adding 800,000 square feet in research facilities to house 2,200 scientists is likely to have a significant impact in the global stem cell arena for decades to come.

Here in California, it was important news locally as well.

Terri Somers of the San Diego Union Tribune reported primarily about the San Diego Consortium for Regenerative Medicine and its $115 million research center. CIRM is popping for only $43 million of the total. She wrote:
"'The fact that we want to build a stem cell research facility here in San Diego and the state is willing to give us $43 million to help make that happen is pretty good,' said Louie Coffman, the consortium's vice president. 'Forty-three million dollars is a pretty good head start.'"
While Coffman is out beating the bushes for cash, he said the consortium plans to seek a loan. The facility includes extra lab space that it could rent to pay off debt.

Richard Halstead of the Marin Independent Journal also reported on the fundraising tasks ahead. He said,
"Now that it has the grant, the Buck Institute must figure out where it is going to find the other $20.5 million it will need to construct the building, plus at least another $1.4 million to stock it with equipment.

"'That is a big question,'said James Kovach, president and chief operating officer of the Buck Institute."
Halstead continued:
"Kovach said he will pursue several options simultaneously. He said philanthropic foundations that have adopted a results-oriented approach - 'what has been termed venture philanthropy' - should be interested in funding such a project."
Overall, a search this morning on the term "California stem cell laboratoraties" generated roughly 60 to 70 stories on Google News. Here are links to other stories: San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee, San Jose Mercury News, North County Times (San Diego area), Merced Sun Star, Madera Tribune,, Santa Cruz Sentinel, Earthtimes and Sphere: Related Content

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