Thursday, March 09, 2006

Four Stem Cell Biggies Form Consortium

San Diego is on a stem cell roll this week. First it was the public embryo bank – the nation's first ever. Now it is a plan to become the world's epicenter of stem cell research.

Reporter Terri Somers broke both of the stories in the San Diego Union-Tribune. Her piece today said that "four La Jolla research institutes plan to join forces and seek state funding to build a facility for human embryonic stem cell research."

They are the University of California, San Diego, and the Burnham, Scripps and Salk institutes. The site would be on the UC campus, which is close to the other three organizations. Somers said their agreement would create a nonprofit entity to plan and build the embryonic stem cell research facility. They would also pledge not to individually seek grants from CIRM.

Somers said, "A new building is important because federal limitations on stem cell research make it impossible to do much of the work in labs that receive federal funding."

Part of the consortium's strategy is to create a better chance of receiving grants, Somers wrote.

"'Individually all of the consortium institutes are stellar, but together we will be a tour de force and become the epicenter of stem cell research in the United States, and therefore the world,' said Dr. Edward Holmes, UCSD vice chancellor of health sciences."
Holmes, John Reed, president of Burnham, and Richard Murphy, president of Salk, are all on CIRM's 29-member Oversight Committee.

"In that role, they vote on who they think should receive research grants; however, the three would not be allowed to vote on grant requests from the consortium," Somers reported.
Zach Hall, president of CIRM, praised creation of the consortium, saying CIRM istrying to encourage the pooling of resources.
"Hall, a former vice chancellor at UC San Francisco, helped draft a plan for creating four distinct research institutes within the University of California.
"'They were all within the University of California and it was still difficult because each has different cultures, different personalities and different rules,' Hall said. 'The fact that these four institutions have put this together I think is a wonderful signal. I'm tremendously impressed with the effort that must have gone into this.'"
One of the players credited with pushing the effort during the last year is John Moores, who owns the San Diego Padres baseball team and is on the UC Board of Regents and the Scripps board. Reed said Moores was an important catalyst in pushing discussions forward.
For those of you outside of California, Jolla is pronounced hoy-yah. It is derived from the Spanish word "joya," which means jewel. There is a pun in there someplace about stem cell jewels and crowning consortiums, but we are not going to look for it.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:39 PM

    I think that this is great, they are really improving the chances of stem cells. Coming together was very smart, and should result in a success for stem cells.


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