Thursday, October 23, 2014

Alpha Clinic Applications Now Being Considered by California Stem Cell Agency

The Alpha clinic awards are now coming up at today's meeting of the governing board of the California stem cell agency.

Earlier today, Randy Mills, the new president of the agency, outlined in more detail his plan to speed up the grant award process beginning next January. His goal is to substantially reduce the time it takes the agency to process an application until a scientist receives funding.

A press release from the agency later said,
“Right now it can take almost two years for a promising idea to go from the application to the final funding stage. That’s just unacceptable,” says Mills. “We are going to shorten that to just 120 days. But we’re not just making it faster, we’re also making it easier for companies or institutions with a therapy that is ready to go into clinical trials to be able to get funding for their project when they need it. Under this new system they will be able to apply anytime, and not have to try and shoehorn their needs into our application process.”
He said the plan would include ongoing funding opportunities each month during which researchers could apply when ready and have their requests acted on within a matter of a couple of months.

He told the board,
"We don't want loitering."
Mills also told the board that 26 percent of the funding of the agency is going for non-cellular research, the sort of thing that is commonly done by Big Pharma and the NIH. He asked for expression of sentiment whether that should  continue.

In a brief discussion, there was little opposition to that continued expenditure.

In 2004, the ballot initiative that created the $3 billion stem cell agency was peddled to California voters on the basis that it would fund human embryonic stem cell research that the federal government would no longer finance. There was no discussion of funding conventional therapies.

(Editor's note: An earlier version of this item carried an incorrect timeline for funding CIRM grants.)

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