The proposal was approved today by CIRM directors on a vote by show of hands.
CIRM said the objective of the effort is "to transformatively advance the stem cell field." The grant program was touted by CIRM President Alan Trounson as a way for California to gain a "firm and lasting grip" on global stem cell leadership.
Writing in the January issue of Nature Biotechnology, Trounson and CIRM scientists Natalie DeWitt and Michael Yaffe said an "urgent need" exists "to ramp up efforts to establish stem cells as a leading model system for understanding human biology and disease states and ultimately to accelerate progress toward clinical translation."
"For California to take a firm and lasting grip on leadership in stem-cell research—and, as stated in Proposition 71,'advance the biotech industry in California to world leadership as an economic engine for California’s future'— its scientists must have access to these technologies and moreover create a coordinated international enterprise to maximize the reach and impact of stem cell genomics. Genomics is creating a sea change in biomedical research and medicine, and accordingly, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM; San Francisco) can create a process through which stem-cell research can participate and even provide leadership in a new era of medicine."The stem cell agency staff proposal to directors said,
"Genomics technologies and the data sets they yield are fast becoming the currency of biology and medicine. The cost of genome sequencing is dropping exponentially, a trend that will soon make genome-scale characterization a practical tool for fundamental studies of stem cell biology and for advancing therapeutic applications. Meanwhile, cell therapeutics are advancing toward clinical trials, and hES and hiPS cells have become the gold standard for studying human cell biology, tissue and organ development and repair, and disease. Combining genomic technologies with stem cell research will accelerate fundamental understanding of human biology, disease mechanisms, tissue engineering and cell therapies...."Awards for the centers of up to $20 million each are scheduled to be awarded next winter.
Here is a link to the CIRM press release on the proposal.