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California Weighs $40M for New Stem Cell Genomics Centers

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A review panel at the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) this week will decide whether to approve $40 million to fund several proposals to launch new research centers that would use genomics to pursue human biology, disease, and therapeutics studies.

CIRM's board will decide in a public meeting on Jan. 29 which applications, if any, will receive the funds, which the board set aside for two years specifically for stem cell genomics initiatives.

CIRM, also referred to as California's Stem Cell Agency, was created in 2004 when state voters approved a proposition that provided the institute with $3 billion to spend on funding stem cell research at institutes across the state.

The CIRM Stem Cell Genomics Centers of Excellence Awards will fund the establishment and operation in the state of one or two centers of excellence that will provide expertise and resources needed for using genomics approaches for stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.

The CIRM is considering several proposals that were submitted in response to a request for applications that was published in the summer of 2012.

According to the RFA, applicants were expected to propose creating centers and research projects that would involve "transformative, data-intensive genomics projects" that would advance the use of genomics in stem cell biology, and to collaborate with and provide assistance to stem cell scientists involved in genomics projects in California.

The CIRM grants working group has already reviewed all of the applications, scored four of them highly, and singled out one project that it has recommended to receive around $33 million of the $40 million that has been set aside for these grants, a CIRM spokesperson told GenomeWeb Daily News.

The final decisions about whether to fund these stem cell genomics center proposals are expected to be made on Wednesday by the Independent Citizen's Oversight Committee, which awards the funding to the initiatives it deems worthy.

The ICOC includes senior leaders of California's research community, patient advocates, and healthcare executives.

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