The UC Davis Stem Cell Program was awarded $20 million by the governing board of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) on May 7 as part of their Major Facilities Grant program.
“UC Davis had obviously showcased both its existing expertise, experience and capabilities,” said senior public information officer for the UC Davis Health System Charles Casey in an e-mail interview.
The grant program, which was launched in August 2007, is meant to promote California’s leadership in stem cell research. The application was composed of a two-part process, the first of which evaluated a total of 17 proposals. The institute’s Scientific and Medical Grants Working Group, which was composed of a peer panel of national scientific experts, selected 12 institutions from this initial pool based on scientific merit.
The second part of the application focused on how well the proposed scientific programs aligned with the agency’s objectives and with the technical aspect’s of the institution’s building program, according to the official website. The final review for the second part of the application took place Wednesday.
“It was actually quite a complicated process,” said Good Manufacturing Practice laboratory director Gerhard Bauer. “It took us about one and a half years.”
UC Davis’ success makes it one of seven institutions in the state to hold the title of “CIRM Institute”. In order to be designated as such, there are three categories within regenerative medicine that the UC Davis Stem Cell program must focus on throughout the course of its research.
First, it must conduct basic and discovery stem cell research. Second, it must carry out preclinical research. Finally, the facility must focus on preclinical development and clinical research.
The UC Davis stem cell facilities, located on the Sacramento campus, are currently limited in the range of research that the program is interested in pursuing.
“It would be difficult to perform the research we want to do without the money,” Bauer said. “We have over 100 faculty who will be collaborating with us in the stem cell program. [The facility] is vital to our research.”
The grant money will be used to renovate and improve the research facility for regenerative medicine, which will be based in a historical 100,000 square foot warehouse and is set to open in summer 2009, Bauer said. The new facility will house a host of specialized research technology, including a 1,100 square-foot research cell sorter core, a 45,000 square-feet designated for wet laboratory and support space and a new Good Manufacturing Process laboratory.
CIRM gave out a total of $271 million to a total 12 recipients, with $560 million from charitable donations to be awarded later. Other institutions that received the grant include Stanford University, the San Diego Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, University of California at Irvine, University of Southern California and UCLA, among others.
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