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A request for money from the California stem cell agency to help fund the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) annual meeting in San Francisco in 2010 as been trimmed to $250,000.

In addition the City of San Francisco is waiving $100,000 that would normally be charged for use of the Moscone Center, site of the meeting.

Given the financial challenges the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) is facing I question whether even the lesser amount can be justified. It's certainly better than the $400K request that first surfaced at the agency's board meeting in December.

Don Gibbons, CIRM communications officer, told me of the new amount requested via e-mail. He also added, "We have agreed to help them fund raise for the last $150K."

That's a mistake.  CIRM should focus with laser-like precision  on where its getting the money to fund existing grant commitments. This sort fund raising effort -- just like hiring a proposed lobbyist in Washington for roughly $200K --  is an unfortunate and unnecessary distraction.