Sunday, February 18, 2007

Somers on CIRM grants of Feb. 16

Terri Somers' article began: "California's groundbreaking stem cell institute [CIRM] approved its first round of research grants yesterday [Feb. 16], directing about $45 million to 72 human embryonic stem cell research projects around the state."

Somers got into the human side: When asked about his decision to break with Bush on the issue of human embryonic stem cell research, the Republican governor [Schwarzenegger] said his decision was about helping those who are desperate for cures, including his father-in-law Sargent Shriver, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. [The probability of Sargent Shriver being treated with a cure arising out of Proposition 71-funded research is epsilon close to zero; however, there is some utility in doing research that may accelerate development, years from now.]

Somers second paragraph was as follows:

In one day, the first state-taxpayer-funded initiative for human embryonic stem cell research awarded funding that surpassed the total amount the National Institutes of Health directed toward the science last year for the entire country.

An immediate implication is that federal funding is less than $45 million per year. Federal support is right around that number. A separate question is whether California's $45 million is all being distributed in one year, which, if not so, would suggest that the figure $45 million is not the right benchmark.

A previous IPBiz post had noted that the NIH had allocated $40 million to human embryonic stem cell in the year 2005. ["In 2005, the NIH allocated roughly $40 million for 154 projects related to human embryonic stem cells, Battey testified at the hearing."] It is separately true that the federal government allocates funding to other areas of human stem cell research. CIRM itself had noted significant funding in OTHER COUNTRIES: China appears to have the largest annual program with a total as high as $249 million with the United Kingdom following at about $193 million, although it is not clear that all of the UK funding is available. Likewise, China's spending may be less. Australia comes in at about $47 million, Singapore at $25 million, Korea at $18 million, (...)

Some in New Jersey might note that the issue of the "first state taxpayer funded initiative" is a bit tricky as New Jersey taxpayers may have funded stem cell research already, although not through the initiative mechanism. It's not exactly clear how the past New Jersey money was authorized, but New Jersey voters did not vote on it.

For anyone who might want to comment on the Somers article, her email is -->


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