Friday, December 14, 2007

Names Disclosed of 12 Applicants for $260 Million in Lab Grants

The California stem cell agency today identified the 12 institutions recommended for consideration in the second round of competition for $260 million in grants to build new stem cell research labs.

They are the University of California campuses at Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Merced, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and San Francisco, the University of Southern California, Stanford, the Buck Institute and the San Diego Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, which includes UC San Diego, Burnham, Salk and Scripps.

The institutions were recommended for funding by the Grants Working Group, which conducted a scientific review of the proposals earlier this year. They will go to the Oversight Committee in January and, if successful, to the Facilities Working Group in the spring. Then the plans will come back to the Oversight for final action in April.

The California Stem Cell Report and the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights have advocated release of the names for months.

John M. Simpson, stem cell project director for FTCR, said, today's announcement was "completely inadequate."

In response to a query, he said,
"We don't know what the universities asked for. We only know what the scientific reviewers in their closed, clubby, secret meeting decided to recommend.

"Even worse, we don't know the five institutions that were excluded from CIRM's club of chosen ones.

"This is no way to spend more than $250 million in public money. Frankly it looks like the only reason the names are being released is so the lucky institutions can go forward and hit private donors up for more money before the tax year ends."
In response to a question, Ellen Rose, interim communications officer for CIRM, said the institution was releasing the names "because we want to give them as much time as possible to most effectively fund-raise for the project leverage portion that they will be raising for the new facilities."

CIRM plans to look more favorably on applicants that have raised large sums to contribute to the building projects.

The agency did not release the names of the five institutions that were turned down. We will have more on the CIRM announcement later today.

(Editor's note: An earlier version of this omitted Stanford from the list of 12.)

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