CIRM has reinvented itself in a new form, CIRM 2.0, under the leadership of its new President Randy Mills.
CIRM is almost like a stem cell that has changed into another new kind of stem cell. Us scientists could see the change coming in the “programming” at CIRM in terms of how it was operating as the 2.0 version, but what would it bring in practical terms?
We are starting to see the new CIRM 2.0 in action and by all signs it looks pretty awesome. They are reviewing grant applications much faster and making decisions at warp speed, which will make applicants happy and more importantly speed along stem cell therapy development toward the bedside.
For example, the new CIRM funded a nearly $18 million grant from NeoStem for a Phase III trial for a promising treatment for melanoma. I’m not a fan of VSEL research so I’m a bit skeptical of NeoStem’s VSEL work, but this other cancer work is entirely different and looks exciting. Other important work has been funded as well under CIRM 2.0 includes a $4.9 million grant to Dr. Shaomei Wang of Cedar-Sinai working toward a therapy for retinitis pigmentosa.
You can read about CIRM’s own assessment of how it is doing so far in its new incarnation here.
I’m excited to see the new CIRM RFAs in the more basic biology arena, which will be called “Discovery” awards.