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NY State Sets Aside $15M in Grants to Build, Renovate Stem-Cell Core Labs

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New York state has set aside $15 million in grants for state-based academic institutions, research organizations, medical centers, or others to help establish and operate multi-institutional stem-cell research core facilities.

According to a formal Request for Applications issued by the state Department of Health's stem cell program, or NYSTEM, and the Empire State Stem Cell Board, the money will go to entities with "demonstrated capability to conduct externally-funded research" stem-cell research.

"The intent of this funding mechanism is to support the development, repair or renovation of an existing facility, outfit of shell space, equipment purchases specifically related to the development of a shared facility and/or the daily operations of such shared facility," the RFA stated.

The facilities must be operated on a shared-use basis, physically located in New York State, and support "basic, applied, translational (mechanistic, technological), pre-clinical or clinical" stem cell-related research.

The state will select awardees that will enter into contracts whose direct costs are capped at $5 million over four years, with indirect costs such as facilities and administrative expenses capped at a maximum 20 percent of modified total direct costs.

Contracts are expected to take effect on Nov. 1, 2010

"Funds may be used to support salaries, fringe benefits, stipends, supplies, equipment, subcontractors and consultants, travel, registration fees, publication costs, animal care, human subjects and related research costs," the request states. "Funds shall not be used for the construction (bricks and mortar) of new facilities but may be used to purchase and/or outfit a modular laboratory."

According to the state, applicants must furnish to the state a major user group of three or more principal investigators on funded peer-reviewed stem-cell research projects at the time of application, award and estimated contract start date.

"Priority for use should be given to NYTSEM supported and other New York state scientists,” and “[a]t least 50 percent of the usage for the shared facility must be for stem cell related projects."

Awardees of earlier state grants toward shared facilities/resources and equipment/instrumentation for stem cell research cannot seek additional funding for their earlier winning projects from this RFP, and must spell out the relationship of those older projects to the new projects for which they would now be seeking funding. Also ineligible for funding are activities related to human reproductive cloning.

Applicants have until Sept. 23 to register for conferences set for Sept. 28 at 10 a.m. in Syracuse at the state Department of Health Central Regional Office, 217 S. Salina Street, Conference Room 4A/4B; or Oct. 5 at 10 a.m. in New York City at the state Department of Health Metropolitan Area Regional Office, 90 Church Street, 4th Floor Conference Room 4A/4B.

Applicants with questions have until Oct. 5 to e-mail them to state stem cell program administrators at
[email protected], or fax them to (518) 486-2191. Technical questions can be answered via phone by Bonnie Jo Brautigam, director of extramural grants administration for the state health department, at (518) 474-7002. The state said answers and updates will be posted by Oct. 14.

The state said applicants are "strongly" encouraged to submit letters of intent by the Sept. 25, 2 p.m. deadline.

Applications are due Dec. 1 by 2 p.m. at the New York State Department of Health Wadsworth Center, Room D350, Extramural Grants Administration. Deliveries via the US Postal Service must be addressed to PO Box 509, Albany, NY, 12201-0509. Deliveries via other couriers must be addressed to Empire State Plaza, Dock J – P1 Level, Albany, NY 12237.

The Shared Facilities for Stem Cell Research awards account for three-quarters of $20.4 million in stem cell grants announced Aug. 27 by Gov. David Paterson. The state has also issued an RFA for $5.4 million for Fellow-to-Faculty Awards to awardees or "Empire State Stem Cell Scholars" eligible for up to two years of continued postdoctoral training in stem cell-related research, followed by up to three years of funding for independent stem cell research at the faculty level. The funds are designed to help research institutions statewide attract and retain postdoctoral research fellows, then transition them to independent tenure-track positions, according to that program's RFA.

Funding for the grant programs comes from the state's $600 million, 11-year Empire State Stem Cell Trust Fund, created in 2007 by Paterson's predecessor, Eliot Spitzer, and overseen by the state stem cell board.

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