The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the state agency Proposition 71 created to manage California’s $3 billion stem cell research program, is nearing its second anniversary. CIRM is making strong progress toward its goal of turning stem cells into therapies and cures, despite litigation that challenges voters’ right to pay for research and that currently limits research funding.

But thanks to $14 million in private financial support, CIRM awarded $12.1 million in grants to 16 California institutions. They will train 169 stem cell researchers, a new generation of scientists that may harness the promise of stem cell research. The grants were awarded on the basis of scientific merit, through a competitive process.

To administer grants and regulate research, CIRM adopted strong policies and standards:

• Robust conflict of interest policies for the board, staff and outside experts

• The most comprehensive medical and ethical regulations in the country for stem cell research

• Intellectual property policies that outline how California shares in revenues generated by CIRM-funded research and that require public health care plans to have access to stem cell therapies

• A scientific strategic plan to guide CIRM funding decisions for a decade

These initiatives were reviewed, debated, modified and approved through an open process that engaged hundreds of experts, interest groups and private citizens. We are grateful for their participation — their contributions make CIRM a better agency.

Link [www.sacbee.com/110/story/80356.html]