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Friday, April 24, 2009

State Stem Cell Agency Reportedly to Get $500 Million Lifeline

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2009 at 2:47 PM

  • How much will half a billion buy?

The San Francisco-based state agency devoted to funding stem-cell research is on the verge of pulling down a hefty cash infusion from this week's sale of government bonds, according to the California Stem Cell Report.

The blog, published by former Sacramento Bee editor and Jerry Brown gubernatorial press aide David Jensen, reported yesterday that the state treasurer's office is planning to funnel $505 million of nearly $7 billion in proceeds from state bond sales to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the stem-cell funding agency created in 2004 through Proposition 71. Voters allotted the agency $3 billion in research money to spend over 10 years.

CIRM spokesman Don Gibbons said he could not confirm Jensen's figures, because the agency has received nothing in writing from the state treasurer. However, Gibbons said CIRM "has indications" that the report is accurate and hopes to make a definitive announcement at a board meeting next week in Los Angeles. Jensen quoted Robert Feyer, bond counsel to the treasurer's office, as confirming that $505 million was set aside for CIRM and would be available next Tuesday.

The stem-cell agency is funded through state bonds, rather than through

annual appropriations from the legislature. In recent months that

arrangement -- designed to minimize political interference in

scientific research -- had posed a problem, as bond sales slowed with

the economic downturn. CIRM had been on track to run out of money by

next fall.

Despite the good news, the stem-cell agency must

still cope with a schism in the scientific community about how it

should spend its money, as we reported in a cover story last week.

Photo by kaibara87.

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Peter Jamison


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