Sunday, May 12, 2019

$15.6 Million Operating Budget Slated for California's Stem Cell Agency

California's 14-year-old stem cell research program is set this week to approve a $15.6 million operating budget as its funding is drawing to a close.

Cash for new research awards is expected to run out later this year. But the agency, known formally as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). still needs to administer multi-year awards for the next few years. It has set aside money to wind down those existing programs.

The proposed operating budget for the 12 months beginning July 1 totals $15.6 million, up from an expected $14.9 million in spending in the 2018-19 fiscal year. The budget is slated to taper down to $1.8 million in 2023-24.

For the new fiscal year, employee salary and benefits consume most of the budget, accounting for $11.4 million, up slightly from $11.3 million this year.  The most recent body count at CIRM shows about 45 employees. 

The second largest spending category for next year is "external services," largely outside contracting. That area totals $1.5 million, up from $1.1 million for the current year.

The 2019-20 budget provides $838,000 for grant application reviews, meetings and workshops. That is up from $794,000 this year.

The $838,000 appears to assume the success of a private, $220 million fundraising drive that is now underway. It would allow the agency to continue its awards in a significant fashion. However, no public announcement of any major fund donations has yet been forthcoming.

The budget comes before the Finance Committee of the agency's governing board on Wednesday. The committee routinely approves the annual operating budget with few, if any, major major changes. The spending plan will then go to the full board next month for ratification.

More details of the budget can be found on the agenda for the meeting. The session will be aired over the Internet. The public can listen in and ask questions online as well. Instructions for participating can be found on the agenda.

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