Friday, January 30, 2009

State Colleges Win CIRM Grants

The California stem cell agency this afternoon said that the 26 training grants "tentatively" approved today totaled $58 million and included 11 aimed at undergraduates and masters level students and 15 targeting young scientists.

It was the first time that California state colleges managed to snag some of CIRM's $3 billion. One two-year community college also won approval. However, all will have to wait for later action actually freeing funds for their programs. The delay in funding prompted CIRM to call the board action "tentative" in its press release. Decisions on funding could come either in this spring, depending on the nature of the financial news for CIRM.

It was the second time in CIRM's brief life that it has approved grants without actually setting the funding in motion. In its first round of grants in 2005, also training programs, the board did not have the cash to fund the grants because of litigation. However, it wanted to send a message that it was in business and intended to move forward. By and large, that message was successful.

It is likely that today's action will also be reasonably successful in communicating the same message. The news release did not dwell on the hours that the board spent discussing what some board members called a financial crisis. The main reference in the news release to CIRM's financial plight was this paragraph:
"In light of the current financial situation in California, the board meeting began with a discussion of funding scenarios through 2010. At this time CIRM can fund all existing commitments through September of 2009."
CIRM is likely to review its financial condition again at board meetings in March and April.

You can find a list of grant winners and the size of their grants here.

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