CIRM funds $25 million for Geron Clinical Trial and $38 million for basic biology

CIRM announced two sets of awards today that both should make major impact including its first clinical trial and $38 million for 27 basic biology studies.

First Clinical Trial. Today CIRM awarded $25 million to support Geron’s FDA-approved clinical trial for spinal cord injury. This is CIRM’s first award to a for-profit company in support of a clinical trial and represents a major milestone.  The funding should help Geron accelerate the clinical trial and is wonderful news.

You can read the grant review here, which is very informative.

Interestingly, for this RFA, this one grant review (the Geron one) is all that is listed. All grant review documents from CIRM RFAs in the past included both recommended and not recommended proposals.

What is unclear is why only one proposal is listed. Did other for-profits such as Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) or iPierian, which both in theory at least should have been eligible, choose not to apply for some reason?

Or did one or more apply (which is what the grapevine is telling me), but the proposals were not funded and the grant reviews are considered confidential?

Basic Biology Gets Big Boost. Today CIRM also awarded 27 Basic Biology Grants, and in this area it was a very good day to be from Southern California. Remarkably, eight of the Basic Biology awards went to UC San Diego, while UCLA garnered six awards so together just these two institutions received more than half of all the awards. As in the past, some venerable California institutions received no awards at all, making for some cranky scientists emailing me.

7 Comments


  1. Great news about Geron. Way to go CIRM on that one.
    But as you know, I am one of the cranky ones about the Basic Bio RFA. Why give Joe Schmo his sixth serving, when Suzy Q has none at all?


  2. Anyone know anything about ACT or iPierian? I think CIRM funding could make a big difference for them and I hope they eventually get it.
    Maybe ACT has all the $ they need now that they have their trials, but $25 million is huge and running clinical trials costs a fortune.


  3. @admin
    Hi Paul,

    Concerning ACT, Gary Rabin (CEO) addressed this issue in an email the other day. He gave permission to share it on the forums. Here is the back and forth:

    Mr. Rabin,

    In the March CC you mentioned CIRM and application of about $4MM.
    I was assuming the application would be under the following:
    RFA 10-03: CIRM Targeted Clinical Development Awards

    Tomorrow a meeting is being held with this being part of agenda,
    8. Consideration of recommendations from Grants Working Group regarding applications submitted in response to RFA 10-03: CIRM Targeted Clinical Development Awards

    The only recommendation on CIRM site is the following which is GERON for just under $25MM
    Summary of application CT1-05168 | California Institute for Regenerative Medicine

    Is the RFA 10-03 where ACT applied? or was it under some other funding opportunity?
    Thanks for any help/guidance on this issue…

    Rock

    Hi Rocky,

    The CIRM funding RFA that we are interested in has an October deadline. Apologize for any confusion. The October round is the corporate funding RFA that carries with it the set of restrictions that would be palatable to our clinical partners. Can’t fit a square peg in a round hole….
    Nice to hear from you. We are so busy getting ready for trials and all of the other corporate activities.
    Best,
    Gary


  4. @admin

    Also, concerning iPierian, I have heard mixed reports. The CA Stem Cell Report recently stated that iPierian did NOT apply:

    http://californiastemcellreport.blogspot.com/2011/02/four-firms-seeking-50-million-from.html

    “Another possible applicant, iPierian Inc., of South San Francisco, told the California Stem Cell Report that it had not applied for funds in the $50 million round.”

    But, the same article also claims that ACT applied for these funds, which the CEO claims is a different RFA.


  5. Supposedly ACT applied, but then withdrew and iPierian did not apply so Geron was the only one left.

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