Friday, January 12, 2018

California Stem Cell Spending: Priming a $1.5 Billion Research Influx

California's $3 billion stem cell agency this week reported on "what you may not know" about the unusual, 13-year-old research organization. 

Its "disclosure" did not deal with such matters as the fact that it is the first such enterprise in state history or that it operates outside of the purview of the governor and the legislature. Rather it dealt with, among other things, leverage -- a term used often in the real estate business to describe, for example, using  $10 to create $1,000.

In the case of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), as the Oakland-based agency is formally known, it said it has created $1.5 billion in leveraged funds. It also noted that it has served as a "validator" for a significant amount of research, meaning that its awards re-assure the nervous nellies of finance about making an investment in a particular project. 

CIRM's seal of approval has led to $528 million in additional "partnership" funding for specific research, the agency said, along with more than $395 million in awards from other agencies that were built on CIRM-backed research. . 

News about the agency often focuses on stories about people and their afflictions. Those emotional tales are powerful ways to tell the CIRM story, but its less well known ventures into leverage and validation also speak to its impact, both short term and long term. 

Kevin McCormack, CIRM's senior director of communications, wrote about all this earlier this week with specific numbers and details in the agency's blog, The Stem Cellar, in a preview of the agency's annual report.
"Our goal is to do all we can to support the best science and move it out of the lab and into clinical trials in people. Obviously, providing funding is a key step, but it’s far from the only step. For us, it’s really just the first step."
CIRM does report its impact in the best possible light. However, there is little doubt that it has played an important role in "de-risking" much stem cell research and creating a friendly environment that is more likely to attract additional financing for a still young field.  Sphere: Related Content

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