Approval of Proposition 14 boosts funding for stem cell agency

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has provided major funding for research and training at UC Santa Cruz since its creation in 2004

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Camilla Forsberg and Lindsay Hinck are co-directors of the Institute for the Biology of Stem Cells at UCSC.

According to the Associated Press, California voters have approved Proposition 14, providing additional funding for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), which funds stem cell research in the state. UC Santa Cruz has received more than $26 million in CIRM funding since 2005.

CIRM was created when California voters approved a bond measure for $3 billion in 2004. The bond money was used to fund research grants, clinical trials, new laboratories, and training programs throughout the state. With unallocated funds running out, supporters of the agency sought additional money through Proposition 14, which authorized $5.5 billion in new funding for CIRM.

At UC Santa Cruz, past funding from CIRM has enabled the establishment of the Institute for the Biology of Stem Cells (IBSC), including a stem cell research facility shared by faculty in several departments, as well as training programs for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Since its start in 2005, the IBSC has built a cohesive interdisciplinary stem cell research community at UCSC. It brings together 27 laboratories led by faculty from five different departments and two divisions.

Individual faculty members have also received major research grants from CIRM, including Camilla Forsberg, professor of biomolecular engineering and co-director of the Institute for the Biology of Stem Cells.

“CIRM has been quite good about funding both research and training, as well as infrastructure,” Forsberg said. “At UCSC, we have been able to establish research infrastructure and resources we wouldn’t otherwise have, recruit new faculty, and provide opportunities for students at all levels.”

The campus has also been able to leverage CIRM’s investments to attract additional funding from other sources, such as a recent $4.2 million grant to the IBSC from the National Institutes of Health for a postdoctoral training and mentorship program.

“One of our best products is the researchers who get rigorous training at UC Santa Cruz and go on to work in the biotech industry in California and at institutions around the world, where many are now running their own labs,” Forsberg said.

Through its funding for research, training, and new facilities, CIRM aims to accelerate the pace of stem cell research in California. The vast majority of funds go to advance research and the development of new therapies, with the goal of fast-tracking stem cell treatments to patients with unmet medical needs. By promoting and encouraging the growth of the stem cell biotechnology sector, the agency is also helping attract the best scientists to the state and establishing California as a global leader in stem cell research.

“The renewal of CIRM funding offers terrific opportunities for our faculty to use the innovative technologies being developed in UCSC labs to advance therapies and cures for devastating diseases and injuries,” said Lindsay Hinck, professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology and co-director of the Institute for the Biology of Stem Cells.