Friday, March 27, 2009

Science Magazine on the State of CIRM

The California stem cell agency "is scaling back, rethinking its priorities and looking at how to mesh its activities with those that will soon be funded by the National Institutes of Health," according to Science magazine.

Writing
in the March 27 edition(subscription required), Constance Holden provided an overview of the current status of the beleaguered $3 billion agency. It will run out of money next fall unless it can privately market California state bonds.

Holden characterized as "bold" the bond sale effort by CIRM Chairman Robert Klein, whom she described as "perennially optimistic."

Holden also wrote that John Robson, CIRM vice president for operations, said:
"...(O)ther CIRM officials 'are not as optimistic as Bob' about finding buyers, but they should be able to carry through their modified plans if sales bring in at least $200 million. Even then, he says, grants for basic research will have to be reduced, from $60 million to $20 million, until at least the end of 2010."
Holden also discussed the $210 million disease team grant program, whose deadline for applications was Thursday.

Holden wrote:
"Some scientists worry that the emphasis on applications is coming too soon. 'I am concerned that some of this rush to the clinic is premature,' says Arnold Kriegstein of the University of California, San Francisco. 'My concern is … they’re taking risks with potentially very little gain.'"
The headline on the Science magazine article said, "CIRM Close-Hauled, Seeks Bonds to Sustain Headway."

For those not familiar with sailing terminology, "close-hauled" refers to a point of sail upwind or "to weather." It is often the most uncomfortable point of sail with the boat pounding into large waves and heeled over so far that the crew must hang on constantly.

The reference also brings to mind another saying from the world of the sea, "Gentlemen never sail to weather." Our comment: Sometimes they don't have a choice. Sphere: Related Content

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