Thursday, July 18, 2013
California Stem Cell Agency to Commit 20 Percent of Remaining Cash
The California stem cell agency next Thursday is expected to move forward with plans to give away $128 million, roughly 20 percent of its remaining funds.
The programs include the $70 million Alpha clinic plan, an ambitious five-year project that would be one of the $3 billion agency's hallmark efforts. The other “concept” rounds up next week include a $35 million “tools and technology”RFA and $23 million to recruit four more star, stem cell scientists to California.
The agency has committed about $1.8 billion of its $3 billion so far with about $700 million available for future spending. The remainder is going for the agency's administrative expenses. Cash for new grants is expected to run out sometime in 2017. Total cost of the agency's efforts run to about $6 billion because it operates with money borrowed by the state and must pay interest.
The agency is currently engaged in developing a plan to develop new sources of funding with an eye on some sort of public-private model. It solicited proposals in May for help with the effort, with the goal of completing a plan by this fall. At last report, however, the contract with the consultant had not been let.
The “strategic roadmap,” as it is called, is likely to come up at next week's governing board meeting along with a review of agency goals for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
On the agenda is a proposal to modify the agency's ban on use of its funds to purchase stem cell lines derived from human eggs supplied by women who have been paid. That proposal will also be heard by the agency's standards group next Wednesday.
The agency has additionally been busy implementing recommendations from a performance audit in May 2012. The audit said the agency was laboring under a range of problems that include protection of its intellectual property and management of its nearly 500 grants plus an inadequate ability to track its own performance. A staff Power Point presentation seems to indicate that it is making substantial progress in solving the problems identified by the audit.
Next week's meeting will be in Burlingame near the San Francisco Airport. Two remote locations where the public can participate are also available in Los Angeles. Addresses can be found on the agenda.
The California Stem Cell Report will provide live coverage of the meeting based on the Internet audiocast with stories filed as warranted.