Sunday, September 28, 2008

San Diego's Sanford Center to Seek 16 Disease Team Grants

In the unlikely possibility that you missed it, the San Diego stem cell consortium announced earlier this month that it snagged $30 million from a South Dakota philanthropist, T. Denny Sanford(pictured).

That will come on top of the $43 million the consortium received from CIRM to build its new lab on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Some 245 scientists will work out of the facility.

However, Heather Chambers of the San Diego Business Journal reported that the group is still $27 million shy of collecting enough cash to build and equip the $115 million, four-story facility. It is scheduled to be completed by December of 2010, or the consortium could face penalties from CIRM. Construction is scheduled to begin in January.

Terri Somers
of the San Diego Union-Tribune put together a piece on the donation and its impact. Buried in her story was an interesting note on the consortium's plans to seek as many as 16 grants from CIRM in its upcoming disease team grant round. CIRM appears ready, however, to limit applications to four from an individual institutions.

The consortium consists of four organizations, Scripps, Salk, Burnham and UC San Diego. Based on Somers' story, it appears that the consortium plans to have each organization apply for four grants, which could run to $20 million or so each. Currently CIRM is allotting about $210 million, not including loans, for its disease team grants.

Obviously, there is not enough money for 16 grants at $20 million each for the San Diego quartet/consortium, not to mention other likely competitors from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

But San Diego's ambitious plans provide some indication of how tough the competition is getting for California stem cell cash.

We should also note that the consortium is no longer known as the San Diego consortium. Its name is now the "Sanford Center for Regenerative Medicine, an Institute of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine." We should additionally note that Sanford, owner of First Premier Bank, has joined a number of other wealthy individuals who are making hefty contributions to help advance science and medicine. Sanford Center officials say more donors are welcome to help make up the $27 million shortfall, although raising cash in the current economic climate may be a tad tough. Sphere: Related Content

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