Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Canadian-California Researchers to Compete for Golden State Cash

The California stem cell agency said today that it will officially go international with an ambitious grant program that could run as high as $210 million.

CIRM released an announcement today aimed at alerting the California and Canadian stem cell communities of this "potential opportunity" and to encourage teams to begin work to snag some of the cash.

The collaborative funding effort involves the Canadian Stem Cell Consortium, which also participated in the joint announcement, and CIRM. The effort was ballyhooed last June but had few specifics.

Today's statement said the goal is to fund multi-disciplinary, disease teams of scientist to develop therapies for specific diseases. CIRM said,
"Successful proposals will include a description of milestones on a path to an investigational new drug filing at the end of the four‐to‐five year grant."
Funds are scheduled to be awarded next year. However, the specifics of the program have not yet been approved by CIRM directors, who are scheduled to take it up in December. Full Canadian approval is not yet in place as well. But both approvals are likely to be a formality.

The announcement may raise questions about the use of California dollars in an international research project. However, under the law, CIRM cash can only be spent in California. CIRM officials have repeatedly said that CIRM grants will be only spent on the California side of international collaborative efforts.

The announcement also raises another question about the fairness of the grant approval process in this case. Given the hooha about Canadian-California collaboration, it would seem that an application pegged to that effort would have an edge over competitors who only have a California program. At least, some other applicants might think so. But perhaps we're wrong.

If the grant round totals $210 million, it would be one of the largest rounds ever by CIRM. Sphere: Related Content

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