Stem cell: $150 million public-private partnership

A high-resolution image of human egg cells. (Jezper, via Shutterstock)

California’s plan to create an ambitious, $150 million public/private partnership to commercialize state-funded stem cell research edged forward this week as the deadline for applications closed on Monday afternoon.

Little is known about the nature of the applications — not even the number received. The state’s stem cell agency yesterday declined to reveal the figure, declaring that the proposals needed to be examined to determine eligibility.

Traditionally the $3 billion agency does not disclose the names of applicants for its funding or details of their applications, although there have been exceptions. Their proposals are reviewed behind closed doors by scientific grant reviewers whose names are not disclosed. Nor are the reviewers’ statements of economic interest publicly revealed.

A CIRM document calls for the proposal to be evaluated by reviewers during the first quarter of next year with final board action also coming during that period. The recommendations of reviewers are almost never overturned by the board.

The public/private partnership could well be one of the landmark legacies of the stem cell agency, formally known as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine(CIRM). The project would be unique in California history and nationally.

The eligibility requirements include the following:

  • A California location for the work
  • Documentation of an “upfront financial commitment” of $75 million(no in-kind services)
  • Readiness to begin work as required by CIRM
  • Incorporation by the date of the application
The recipient must begin work on the project within 45 days of the award, which translates to before the middle of next year.

Ed’s Note: David Jensen is a retired newsman who has followed the affairs of the $3 billion California stem cell agency since 2005 via his blog, the California Stem Cell Report, where this story first appeared.  He has published more than 4,000 items on California stem cell matters in the past 11 years. 


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