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UCSF Receives Funding for Training Grant from Stem Cell Institute

By Jennifer O'Brien, UCSF News Services | April 10, 2006

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine today announced that UCSF and 15 other California non-profit institutions have received the first year of funding for a three-year program designed to train the next generation of stem cell scientists. These are the first grants awarded by the California stem cell agency.

The Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee (ICOC) approved the training grant applications on September 9, 2005, but they could not be awarded due to litigation impeding the State's ability to sell approved general obligation bonds.

Funding for the grants was drawn from the sale of $14 million of bond anticipation notes (BANs) to six California philanthropic entities. The California Stem Cell Research and Cures Finance Committee approved the BANs this past week.

"This is great day for California and the rest of the nation," says Arnold Kriegstein, MD, PhD, director of the UCSF Institute for Stem Cell and Tissue Biology. "Disease knows know boundaries.

"Stem cell biology opens a new door on the treatment of disease. It will require innovative new ways of thinking, new tools and new skills. What better way to ensure success than to recruit the brightest and most gifted, and train them for the future."

The training grants will allow California universities to begin educating graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and physicians in a field that will require a substantial investment of research to determine the potential of stem cells and other early-stage cells to illuminate and treat a variety of intractable diseases and conditions, he says.

"The funding provided by CIRM will greatly help us with achieving our goals in understanding the biological basis of cell-based regenerative medicine and using this knowledge for future therapies," says Rik Derynck, PhD, co-director of the UCSF Institute for Stem Cell and Tissue Biology. "We at UCSF are very proud to be part of this California-wide effort to stimulate stem cell research."

CIRM awarded three levels of awards - comprehensive, intermediate and specialized - accommodating 169 trainees in programs at small and large institutions throughout California. UCSF applied for and received funding for a "comprehensive" award, designed for training 16 predoctoral, postdoctoral and clinical fellows in stem cell research. UCSF will receive $1,152,431 in the first year of funding.

The stem cell training program was designed and will be led by Renee Reijo Pera, PhD, co-director of the UCSF Human Embryonic Stem Cell Center and UCSF associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences, and Kevin Shannon, MD, UCSF professor of pediatrics, who studies genes that normally regulate the growth of immature blood-forming cells that are mutated in leukemias.

Read more at Jennifer O'Brien, UCSF News Services