California Loan News
California Loan News
After the Bush veto of the funding bill, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger authorized a state loan of $150 million to the California stem cell institute. Today the San Diego Tribune reports that the CIRM has now funded three different grant programs for embryonic stem cell research with the money. The paper describes them as follows:
“Comprehensive research grants for scientists with a record of accomplishment in human embryonic stem cell research, or closely related fields that relate to a long-term therapeutic goal.
“Seed grants to fund innovative ideas by scientists new to the embryonic stem cell field.
“Shared research grants for laboratories that have been dedicated to creating human embryonic stem cell lines. The money can be used for buying core equipment and training personnel. Additional grants in this category will be made for a course to teach methods of growing the cells in a petri dish.”
Research areas of interest are basic biological questions, such ass how to keep ESCs from becoming cancerous, the best way to extract them from the embryo, and so on. Researchers may also do work on how to insert DNA into an embryonic stem cell to try to create models of particular diseases and experiment with therapies.
The Oakland Tribune gives some more details of how the money will be allocated: "Up to 25 comprehensive research grants of $400,000 a year for four years . . .; up to 30 two-year seed grants of $200,000 annually . . .; up to 15 shared research laboratory grants . . . [that] would range from $2 million to $2.5 million for capital costs, and up to $400,000 a year over three years for ongoing costs and supplies." Grantees are likely to be selected in February.
Several scientists were quoted in the article as saying that the CIRM should not give all the money to embryonic stem cell research, but the head of the CIRM defended the decision as one of logistics—this is the first major grant allocation, and they didn’t want to be overwhelmed by many more grants than they could handle. While I see his point, I do hope that further grants include money for non-embryonic stem cell research; the science really needs to be carried out in multiple tracks for the most information. But it is exciting to feel like something is finally going forward.