The total for two concept proposals will consume roughly 14 percent of the agency's remaining cash, leaving only $402 million for future awards.
Director Jeff Sheehy said that the agency is going through money at an "alarming pace" and that approval of the plans would limit the agency's future ability to take advantage of research opportunities. He said the board was basically telling presidential candidates that we want "to hire you to manage the last embers of a dying fire."
The agency is scheduled to run out of cash in 2017.
Other directors were concerned about losing the agency's research momentum. Some said businesses could not wait many months or a year to gain funding.
A motion to delay a decision was rejected on a 7-12 vote. Directors then approved one of the two concept proposals, a $32 million program, on a 14-3 vote with two abstentions.
(Editor's note: This item has been revised from an earlier version to reflect action on both proposals and to add new figures on the amount of cash remaining for CIRM.)