Friday, April 17, 2009

San Diego's Stem Cell Consortium Still Hunting For Cash

San Diego's Sanford stem cell consortium is buoyed by the latest assurances that it will receive $43 million from CIRM to assist with its new research lab, but it still needs to borrow as much as $65 million more, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported today.

Reporter Terri Somers wrote:

"For months, the state could not sell bonds to support voter-approved projects such as the stem cell institute because it did not have an approved budget. And some lenders questioned whether the fiscally challenged state could make good on its promise to provide the consortium's funding. The escrow account should address those fears, said Louis Coffman, the consortium's vice president.

"UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox also welcomed the news.

“We are happy to learn that we are now one step closer to building an important new stem cell research facility for the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, which will enable researchers from the University of California San Diego, the Salk Institute, the Burnham Institute and The Scripps Research Institute to more effectively collaborate to find cures for some of the world's most devastating diseases,' Fox said."

Somers also wrote,

"'Now we can go to the market and say there is no risk associated with the California money,' Coffman said.

"To raise the rest of its financing, the consortium has selected Barclay's Capital as its investment banker to underwrite a bond offering, Coffman said.

"The underwriter typically agrees to buy a certain amount of bonds, and then sell them to investors on behalf of the consortium.

"The consortium has also applied for funding from the federal stimulus package, which would be administered through a grant from the National Institutes of Health, Coffman said. Any stimulus money received would reduce the amount of funding the consortium would have to raise through the bond financing, he said."

Somers reported that ground has not been broken on the project, which raises questions about whether the consortium can meet the CIRM completion deadline. The labs were to have been finished within two years, according to a CIRM news release May 7, 2008.

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