Wednesday, September 14, 2005

More Favorable PR Stems From Training Grants

California universities have begun patting themselves on the back for receiving the first-ever grants in the state's $3 billion stem cell research effort.

None that we saw mentioned that zero dollars were delivered with the awards, except for the press releases from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Stanford University.

Nonetheless, the decisions on the grants and the follow-up press releases create an appearance of activity and momentum, which is exactly what CIRM officials sought.

Stanford received $3.7 million. Its press release quoted Michael Longaker, professor of medicine and chair of the advisory committee for Stanford’s Program in Regenerative Medicine, as saying, “It is particularly gratifying to be able to link the incredible depth and breadth of talent at Stanford. We want stem cell biology and regenerative medicine to be a catalyst for collaborations between faculty and trainees in all the schools. This exciting educational environment should help propel Stanford to a leadership role in regenerative medicine.”

USC, which received $3.2 million, noted that its application was described as "very thoughtful" by reviewers.

"This grant award bodes well for the program we are trying to develop here at the Keck School of Medicine - the USC Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine - and speaks highly of the research being conducted here and at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles," said Brian E. Henderson, M.D., dean of the Keck School of Medicine and a member of the Oversight Committee that awarded the grants.

Childrens Hospital Los Angeles announced that it is "the only pediatric institution in California awarded a stand-alone CIRM training grant." It was approved for $2.4 million.

"The biomedical environment and strength of stem cell research at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles and the Keck School of Medicine combine to provide a rich milieu for training the next generation of physicians and scientists who will use stem cells as the basis for research and therapy," said Donald B. Kohn, director of the Gene, Immune and Stem Cell Therapy Program at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. Childrens is affiliated with USC.

The University of California, San Francisco, combined the announcement that it had received a $3.6 million grant with a press release on creation of the Institute for Stem Cell and Tissue Biology.

It said its training program "will be led by Renee Reijo Pera, PhD, co-director of the UCSF Program in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology’s Human Embryonic Stem Cell Center and associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, and Kevin Shannon, MD, professor in the Department of Pediatrics, who studies genes that normally regulate the growth of immature blood-forming cells that are mutated in leukemias."

The Gladstone Institutes at UC San Francisco received a $2.4 million grant. "Gladstone Institutes President Robert W. Mahley, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine and pathology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), will serve as the director of the CIRM Scholars Training Program. Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease Associate Investigator Bruce Conklin, MD, a UCSF associate professor of medicine and cellular and molecular pharmacology, will serve as associate director," a press release said.

UCSB noted that funding of its $1.3 million grants awaits the sale of bond anticipation notes, since litigation has effectively halted the sale of other California state bonds.

The press release went on to say, "Martin Moskovits, UCSB's dean of the Division of Mathematical, Life and Physical Sciences, called the grant 'a strong statement that we are significant international players in the kind of biomedical research from which important new therapies for human disease will be developed." He explained further that, 'We have already established important partnerships with companies and medical schools with whom we intend to pursue a vigorous research program.'"

1 comment:

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