Saturday, January 30, 2010

CIRM Proposes $40 Million Stem Cell "Tools" Round; Board Meeting Accessible in LA

For those of you in Southern California who would like to participate in next week's CIRM board meeting, you will be able to do so via a teleconference call from the offices of the Sherry Lansing Foundation in Los Angeles.

Additional background information on matters to be acted on at the meeting that begins Wednesday was posted on the CIRM Web site late yesterday and early today. Still not available to the public is any significant information on the proposed changes in CIRM's $500 million biotech loan program and a proposal for CIRM to get into the clinical trial business. Clinical trials can run into hundreds of millions of dollars, but CIRM is probably going to offer to pay only a portion of the cost of a trial.

On the table with background information are regulations to “authorize the use of embryos donated by IVF patients where the gamete donors received compensation for reproductive purposes.” The regulations include authorization of “the use of somatic cells for which donors have received IRB-approved compensation for inconvenience, provided that CIRM funds have not been used.”

Also available is information on a $40 million grant concept proposal dealing with “tools and technology.” CIRM said 20 grants could be awarded to “support the inception, early stage development and evaluation for stem cell research applications of innovative tools and technologies that will overcome current roadblocks in translational stem cell research.” The round would include funding for “disease-in-a-dish” models. The grants will be open to both business and academic researchers.

Early today, an additional item was added to next week's agenda – the nomination of two scientists as alternate members of the CIRM panel that makes the de facto decisions on grant applications. They are Laurie Jackson-Grusby of Harvard and Maria Grazia Roncarolo of the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan.

Next week's meeting will can be heard on an Internet broadcast. However, the broadcast does not allow participation by listeners. The Wednesday broadcast begins at 4:30 p.m. PST. Listeners should go this Website and use conference ID# 141973. The broadcast Thursday begins at 8:30 a.m. PST. Use and conference ID# 141977.

The Thursday broadcast includes a presentation by a three Stanford scientists on genetic skin disease . The trio – Alfred Lane, Anthony Oro and Marius Wernig – received a $12 million disease team grant last fall. The CIRM board meeting begins following their presentation.

The address of the Lansing Foundation, where listeners can also make comments to the board, can be found on the meeting agenda.

The California Stem Cell Report will be covering the sessions live both days and will file stories as warranted.

(Editor's note: An earlier version of this item incorrectly said the board meetings are on Tuesday and Wednesday.)


  1. Anonymous5:28 AM

    The 'disease in a dish' proposal combined with funding clinical trials seems like CIRM is trying to be everything to everyone.

    They will have to take care that the 'tools' aren't merely grantsmanship for more years of basic research funding going nowhere fast; a nice new grant stream for the universities, not so nice expenditure for the taxpayers and patients hoping for CIRM to help meet their medical needs.

  2. The meetings are on Wednesday and Thursday not Tuesday and Wednesday like your article states. Great blog and reporting I check things out at least once a week.

    Brad Bixby

  3. Brad-- Good catch. Thanks for letting us know. We have posted a correction.