Only universities and nonprofit research institutions had been eligible to get a piece of California’s $6 billion stem cell research program until two rounds of grants awarded in June — the New Cell Line Grants and the Disease Team Planning Grants. Only one firm, Novocell, was successful. It received a $50,000 Disease planning grant.
That’s led to a good bit of possibly deserved grousing from stem cell companies, that the awards process is skewed towards academic science.
I’ve often argued that the entire process would be enhanced if it were more transparent. Representatives of a few companies have appeared at stem cell board meetings and voiced their disappointment so we know they applied.
However, for the most part the public doesn’t know who put in an application. I’m of the view that all would be better served if everyone knew who sought grants. It is after all public money we’re talking about. I’m not suggesting revealing proprietary information. Simply knowing who applied and was rejected might prompt some serious discussion amongst them about the process and how to improve it.
Did the companies get a fair shake or not?
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has steadfastly refused to identify any applicant for any grant unless the appplicant receives an award. I know at least one corporate exec who asked for such a list of companies in this round and was rebuffed.
I can help. A spread sheet got passed along to me that lists all the for-profit entities filing letters of intent to apply for either a New Cell Line Grant or a Disease Team Planning Grant. It was used for internal CIRM vetting processes.
Now just because an LOI was filed, it doesn’t mean the company followed through and applied. However, you couldn’t apply without filing an LOI.
Here’s the list of firms which filed an LOI to apply for the Disease Team Planning Grant: Advanced Cell Technology, Alameda; BioCardia Inc., South San Francisco; DNAmicroarray Inc., San Diego; Genomics Institue of Novartis Research Foundation, San Diego; International Stem Cell Corp., Oceanside, Novocell, San Diego; Panorama Research Inc., Mountain View; RegeneMed Inc., San Diego; StemCyte Inc., Covina; and Stemedica Cell Technologies, San Diego.
Here are the companies that filed an LOI to apply for New Cell Lines Grant: Advanced Cell Technology, Alameda; BioTime, Inc., Emeryville; California Institute of Molecular Medicine, Ventura; Cascade Life Sciences Inc, San Diego; DNAmicroarray Inc., San Diego; Gene Security Network, Portola Valley; International Stem Cell Corp., Oceanside, Raven Biotechnologies Inc., South San Francisco; RegeneMed Inc., San Diego; Supercentenarian Research Foundation, Inglewood; VistaGen Therapeutics Inc., South San Francisco and WaferGen Biosystems, Fremont.
Maybe you folks should get together and talk…