Tuesday, August 20, 2013

California Stem Cell Agency Spending: Where the Money Is Going

Analysis of CIRM funding by Pat Olson, executive director of CIRM scientific activities July 2013
The California stem cell agency will have committed $472 million to translational research – a key to commercializing stem cell therapies – if it awards the full $70 million in new grants and loans slated to come before its governing board next week.

The nearly $500 million will amount to about 17 percent of its funding so far, according to an analysis last month by Pat Olson, the agency's executive director of scientific activities. The largest percentage of the agency's cash, however, will be going for “development” – 35 percent or $970 million. Olson defined “development” as “essentially our IND enabling, our preclinical development programs and our clinical development programs.”

Basic research is to receive 17 percent or about $469 million with buildings and facilities taking up $443 million or 16 percent. Training and career development has consumed about 15 percent or $414 million.

However, those calculations include $577 million in funds that have been allocated but not yet awarded. Another $491 million is “concept approved” but also not awarded. The agency's governing board could change those allocations or withdraw approval of concepts, although it has not yet shown signs that it might do so.

The agency will run out of money for new grants in 2017 and is examining the possibility of generating more cash through some sort of public-private partnership. To develop support for continued funding, the agency is under pressure to generate results that will resonate with the public and potential private funding sources. Those results are most likely to come from a late stage translational/clinical trial effort.

Here is a link to CIRM's translational portfolio as of September 2012.

(An earlier version of this item incorrectly said that the agency would run out of money for new grants in 2013. The correct year is 2017,.)

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