California Panel Gives Second Embryonic Stem Cell Research Grants

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 16, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

California Panel Gives Second Embryonic Stem Cell Research Grants Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 16
, 2007

Sacramento, CA ( — The California panel set up under Proposition 71 awarded its second round of grants on Thursday for embryonic stem cell research. The grants, which total $74.5 million would provide funds for years’ worth of work for 26 scientific teams across the state but they all involve the contentious research that destroys human life.

The institute’s 29-member board met on Thursday night and awarded the grants during the first of its two-day meeting. More grants are expected today.

The panel received a total of 70 grant proposals requesting $80 million in funding.

Robert Klein, chairman of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine’s board, bragged to the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper that the grants "make us the highest funder of human embryonic stem cell research in the world."

Six of the grants in the first round were awarded to researchers in San Diego, including three to UCSD, two to the Burnham Institute and one to the Salk Institute.

The grants given out yesterday were meant to support scientists who are already working in the field and $45 million in SEED Grants given last month were to help budding scientists or new research.

The newspaper reported that the grants were made after a working group of scientists from across the globe met and scored the proposals based on their merit.

The state proposition was approved in 2004 with 59 percent of state residents voting for it. Since then it, and the panel it created, have been tied up in court by pro-life and taxpayers groups who say both are unconstitutional. They also say the panel is unaccountable and has violated several state laws.

An Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled last April against the groups and an appellate court in San Francisco upheld that ruling last month. An appeal to the California Supreme Court is expected.

Because of the court battles, the institute has been limited in the amount of grants it can give because it can’t sell bonds to raise funds as they may be worthless if the court ultimately overturns the proposition or the panel.

As a result, private donors and foundations have funded the panel and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger authorized a $150 million loan.