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UC Irvine’s stem cell facility proposal ranks high in first round of funding evaluations


UC Irvine’s proposal to build a state-of-the art stem cell institute on campus cleared its first hurdle this week, placing third among 12 state institutions in the running for Major Facilities Grants administered by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

This grant funding will be the backbone of new facilities that will engage in a broad spectrum of stem cell research and development of therapies, diagnostics and technologies to treat injury or disease. The first round of evaluation looked at the scientific breadth and depth of the stem cell research program in place and the relationship of the proposed facility to that program. UC Irvine’s application scored in the top three, along with a plan submitted by the San Diego Consortium, which includes the Burnham Institute, UC San Diego, the Scripps Research Institute and the Salk Institute, and a proposal from Stanford University.

CIRM has not determined how many grants will be awarded.

“This shows the strength of stem cell research on the UCI campus,” said Peter Donovan, co-director of UCI’s Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center. “Now we need to build on our great scientific score to encourage and further community support, which will be the major component of the second round of evaluation.”

One of the objectives of the Major Facilities Grant is to encourage supplemental external funding that will augment CIRM funds for new facilities. Applicant institutions are required to provide a minimum of 20 percent cash in matching funds to further leverage the project. The second round of consideration will begin in about one month.

The objectives of the CIRM Major Facilities Grant Program are:

Funding new facilities – and encouraging investments by others in new facilities – that allow research and development of therapies based on human embryonic stem cell (hESC) and other stem cell approaches free of restrictions imposed by the federal funding.

Expanding stem cell research capacity and capabilities in California while bringing researchers together in a collaborative setting.

Funding new facilities and improvements where inadequate or non-existent facilities pose a challenge to the development of therapies and cures.

UC Irvine’s application seeks funding to establish a CIRM-funded institute to carry out stem cell research in three categories: basic and discovery stem cell research, preclinical (translational) research, and preclinical development and clinical research. CIRM funding for these projects will range from $25 to 50 million.

About the University of California, Irvine: The University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Founded in 1965, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with more than 27,000 undergraduate and graduate students and nearly 2,000 faculty members. The third-largest employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3.6 billion. For more UCI news, visit

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