Monday, December 03, 2012

$80 Million in Grants, Money for Viacyte and Blue-Ribbon Report on California Stem Cell Agency

Directors of the California stem cell agency are expected to give away $80 million next week to 20 fortunate researchers in addition to exploring a “commercialization and industry engagement plan.”

The subjects are on tap for the Dec. 12 meeting in Los Angeles of the governing board of the $3 billion research effort.

The $80 million grant round is aimed at “career development of physician scientists working in translational stem cell research.”

“This award will fund promising physician scientists in the critical early stages of their careers as independent investigators and faculty members establishing their own laboratories and programs.” 
Summaries of the grant reviewers comments and application scores should be available sometime this week. The bare-bones agenda lacked elaboration on the commercialization plan.

Directors are additionally scheduled to hear a presentation on the blue-ribbon report by the Institute of Medicine for which the agency is paying $700,000. The report has been 17 months in the making and is scheduled to be released this Thursday.

Other interesting matters are on the table, although the agency has yet to produce background material laying out any details. The subjects include:
  • More money – no amount yet specified – for Viacyte, Inc, of San Diego, which has received more than $36 million from CIRM.
  • An update of the agency's response to the only performance audit conducted at the agency. The audit identified 27 areas where improvement is needed, but the governing board has not discussed the results publicly since they were disclosed last May.
  • Approval of the concept plan for another round of basic biology grants and adoption of conflict of interest code changes.
Interested parties will be able to take part at the meeting location in Los Angeles and teleconference locations in La Jolla, Oakland and UCSF. If you are interested in the teleconference locations, you will need to contact the agency for more specific directions than are provided on the agenda.

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