Saturday, February 17, 2007

Two University of California Davis scientists won a combined $837,000 in stem cell grants

Sacramento Business Journal - February 16, 2007

Business News - Local News
Initial state stem-cell grants awarded
Sacramento Business Journal - 2:54 PM PST Friday, February 16, 2007
by Celia Lamb
Staff writer

Two University of California Davis scientists won a combined $837,000 in grants handed out by the group awarding state funding for stem cell research, a smallish slice of the $45 million in grants announced Friday.

Ebenezer N. Yamoah was promised $469,327 for studies on the potential of using embryonic stem cells to regenerate inner ear hair cells and treat deafness. Hari A. Reddi was granted $367,650 for work on possible osteoarthritis treatments using embryonic stem cells that could produce joint cartilage.

Embryonic stem cells are unspecialized precursors to the cells that form tissues such as muscles and nerves.

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, formed to oversee a $3 billion stem cell research program approved through a California voter initiative in 2005, handed out a total of 72 grants to scientists at 20 California universities and research institutes. It selected those from 231 applications requesting a total of $138.3 million.

The state has been held back from issuing stem cell bonds by pending lawsuits filed by tax opponents and people who oppose human embryonic stem cell research because it involves the destruction of embryos. Last year Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered the state to provide the Institute for Regenerative Medicine with revenue from a $150 million loan from the general fund and $31 million from the sale of bond anticipation notes issued to private individuals and nonprofit foundations.

The institute plans to award up to $80 million in additional grants in March.

Originally, CIRM -- which is charged with handing out some $3 billion in stem cell research grants over a decade -- planned to give out just $24 million in this round. But because it received many high-quality grants, the group approved 72 grants rather than just the 30 it originally planned for.

A spokesman for CIRM said the higher dollar figure also reflected some pent up frustration about legal delays to the grant process.

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