Overall, not focusing just on ES cell research, who is the largest funding agency in the world for stem cell research?
If you think about CIRM, funding stem cell grants just in California, versus NIH funding stem cell research across the country, who might you imagine would have provided more funding?
I would have thought NIH.
However, a simple number crunching exercise reveals a surprising, if preliminary conclusion: CIRM funded more stem cell research than NIH during the last 5 years.
During the period of CIRM’s existence it has provided over $1.2 billion in stem cell research funding, while during the same period (at least according to the NIH REPORTER tool on funded grants), NIH has funded just over $1.12 billion.
Now it is possible than the NIH grant REPORTER tool missed something, but the current conclusion is the following:
CIRM has been the largest funder of stem cell research (not just embryonic stem cell research) in the world over the last 5 years.
Some caveats. A large chunk of the CIRM funding went to build the new stem cell institutes in California so the funding for actual research grants on stem cells by CIRM is still lower than NIH. NIH has in addition funded several fold more total stem cell grants and unlike CIRM, many NIH grants are renewable, but even so the numbers are still quite striking and serve to illustrate the immense impact of CIRM.
This is not to say that NIH funding isn’t important. Of course, it is phenomenally important for the stem cell field and in fact it would be ideal if NIH funded more stem cell research.