The Niche

CIRM round up: some companies get grants, some officials get salaries

Salaries and appointments for CIRM officials

After lots of people (including me) indulged in headlines touting half-million suppositions, the CIRM board decided to pay Bob Klein $150,000 a year for what it deemed a half-time position. The San Francisco Business Times provides a nice overview, including the potential hiring of California Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres for the vice-chair position at just over $300,000 per year, and Governor Schwarzenegger’s concerns about paying both these positions. The Sacramento Bee has an article on Torres.

Some companies get tools grants

In the last round of grants for creating new pluripotent stem cell lines, biotech companies cried foul that only applications from academics got the dough. (See What got funded.) They have less to complain about in this round. And while San Diego was bitterly disappointed that San Francisco (my fair city) won the seat of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, they should be cheered that four San Diego biotechs won grants. In addition, Duane Roth, one of the biggest “go-to” people in the San Diego biotech community, is reported to be Schwarzenegger’s pick for the vice-chair position eyed by Torres. XConomy reports that funds will soon be flowing to NovoCell for a pouch that can be used to transplant insulin-secreting cells without triggering an immune response, to Invitrogen (now known as the hard-to-Google “Life Technologies”) to use stem cells to model neurodegenerative disease, to Vala Sciences to make heart cells from stem cells, and to a joint effort by Fluidigm (which is in South San Francisco) and StemGent for techniques to find better ways to induce differentiated cells to pluripotency. The San Diego Tribune describes some funded technology more fully, along with the disappointments of one of the industry applicants that did not get funded. The two other companies to win grants were Gamma-Medica Ideas (with offices in Northridge, California, plus Norway and Canada) for ways to visualize single stem cells in the body and Vistagen (based in South San Francisco) for ways to use stem cells to screen drugs for potential liver toxicity.

Here is a list of the 23 grants awarded to 18 institutions, along with links to each application. Awarded funds totaled $19 million. This round of grants was targeted to develop technologies that could speed the development of therapies rather than become therapies themselves.


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