Thursday, July 25, 2013

Another $23 Million to Recruit Star Stem Cell Scientists to California

California's $46 million effort to lure stem cell research stars to the Golden State was expanded today by another $23 million.

Directors of the stem cell agency approved the funds on a 14-4-1 vote. CIRM directors Jeff Sheehy and Francisco Prieto were among those opposing the move. Prieto declared,
“We are coming up against finite resources. We have better ways to spend our money."
 Sheehy said that CIRM is contributing to inflation in stem cell science with its lucrative recruitment grants. 

Those supporting the expansion said that the grants have had a great impact on the field, not only bringing in individual scientists, but accompanying researchers in their labs along with grants from other sources.

The additional funds will go to institutions that have not already benefited from one of the earlier grants in the program. Up to four awards are expected to be made.

The CIRM staff proposal on the plan said,
“A number of California institutions have not yet been able to secure a confirmed Research Leadership award but would benefit greatly from the recruitment of emerging or established leaders in stem cell biology. Participation in the CIRM program could bring additional, exceptional researchers to California, strengthen and synergize with other efforts to build up local sustained research communities in stem cell biology and medicine and provide ongoing leadership at the cutting edge of California regenerative medicine.”
All of the California institutions involved with the winning researchers have representatives on the governing board of the stem cell agency. They are not allowed, however, to vote on grants to their institutions or researchers -- only on proposals such as today's $23 expansion.

Applications are due in January with final approval scheduled for next May. The program is not open to businesses.

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