Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Surviving after 2020: California Stem Cell Agency Reports $7 Million in Private Donations

The California stem cell agency today unveiled the first concrete indication that it will have significant cash after 2020, when its funds are scheduled to run out for new awards.

The news came in a memo quietly posted last night on the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting in Los Angeles. The memo said the agency had received pledges of $7 million in private support that appear to be the first installment in a $30 million, four-year funding plan beyond 2020.

Details were not immediately available. Jonathan Thomas, chairman of the agency, is scheduled to brief board members on the funding plan tomorrow. But based on the memo and a presentation document, Thomas appears to be looking forward to private funding along with some public support, presumably from the state of California. However, the presentation labelled the funding as a “wind-down” operation.
Bill Bowes, UCSB photo

The William K. Bowes, Jr. Foundation is providing $5 million to the agency, and the Franklin and Catherine Johnson Foundation is adding $2 million, the memo by James Harrison, the agency's general counsel said.

The Bowes Foundation in 2012 gave $5 million to the UC Santa Barbara stem cell program. Bowes is the founder of Amgen.

The memo said,

“These gifts are contingent upon CIRM raising an additional $23 million before June 30, 2019 and not having access to additional funds for its administrative costs.”

Currently the agency is financed with money that state borrows (bonds). The cash flows directly to the agency without intervention or control by the governor or the legislature, an arrangement established by voters in 2004 when they approved creation of the agency, formally known as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).
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