Saturday, December 03, 2011

Luring Stem Cell Researchers to California: A $5.6 Million Bid

The $3 billion California stem cell agency has played a role in bringing two star researchers to the Golden State through its $44 million recruitment program and is about ready to bring in a third.

Next Thursday in Los Angeles, CIRM's governing board is expected to approve a $5.6 million grant to an unidentified scientist to lure him or her to an unidentified California institution.

The funds will go for the researcher's efforts to develop "a regeneration-based functional restoration treatment for spinal cord injury," according to a summary of reviewer comments on the CIRM web site. The grant was scored at 86 by scientific reviewers.

The summary quoted the researcher as saying,
"We recently made breakthrough discoveries in identifying key biological mechanisms stimulating the re-growth of injured axons in the adult nervous system, which led to unprecedented extents of axon regeneration in various CNS injury models. While our success was compelling, we found that many regenerated axons were stalled at the lesion sites by the injury-induced glial scars. Furthermore, it is unclear whether the regenerated axons can form functional synaptic connections when they grow into the denervated spinal cord. This proposed research program is aimed at solving these obstacles by using human stem cell technologies."
The summary said,
"The PI was described by reviewers as a superb scientist and emerging leader with outstanding accomplishments and exceptional promise. The candidate has already made key contributions to the understanding of mechanism underlying axonal regeneration that have significantly advanced the field of neuroregeneration. He/she has been extremely productive, publishing a number of seminal papers in the highest profile journals including Science, Nature, Neuron and Nature Neuroscience."
The stem cell agency's recruitment efforts have helped to bring Peter Coffey ($4.9 million from CIRM)from the UK to UC Santa Barbara and Robert Wechsler-Reya ($6 million)- to Sanford Burnham in La Jolla from Duke University.

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