Friday, January 08, 2021

Hundreds of California Scientists Eyeing $182 Million from Golden State Taxpayers

Hundreds of California stem cell researchers this week took part in an online exploration of the new, $182 million research plans of the state's newly refinanced efforts to develop therapies for afflictions ranging from cancer to incontinence. 

Their questions ranged from the quite technical to how to comment during the formulation of a new strategic plan for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the official name of the stem cell agency. 

CIRM is in the process of figuring out how to spend a total of $5.5 billion approved by voters last fall. The cash will fuel research for about another 11 years. At that point, CIRM funding will terminate unless another source of financing is developed. 

The agency was created in 2004 by voters who allotted it $3 billion in borrowed money. By the time the money runs out, CIRM will have cost taxpayers an estimated $12 billion, which includes interest on the state bonds.  

This week's webinar dealt with the agency's plans to award $182 million -- the first bite into the new $5.5 billion -- over the next six months for basic, translational and clinical research. On Thursday, Gil Sambrano, vice president of portfolio development review, laid out the plans that were approved last month by the CIRM governing board. He answered a number of questions during the session, which was viewed by more than 350 participants. Since then, the recording of the session has attracted an additional, 50-plus viewers.  (To see the session, click on this sentence.) 

CIRM began making awards in September of 2005, and it has delivered cash to more than 900 recipients. Many have received more than one award. 

The first deadline for clinical applications in the latest round of funding is the last business day of this month. The deadline for translational applications is 2 p.m. PST Feb. 18. The deadline for the basic research "Quest" round is 2 p.m. PST March 18. 

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