James Thomson has added a part-time position at the University of California, Santa Barbara, to his current position at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The new post is raising eyebrows because of recent strains between his home institution and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) in San Francisco.

Thomson, a pioneering stem-cell researcher, expects to spend around one month per year at his US$1-million lab in Santa Barbara. But even that limited presence helped the university secure a $2.3-million grant from the CIRM in June, noted blogger David Jensen on 15 July. And if some of the money granted to the university leads to breakthroughs it might also profit the state of California.

According to CIRM spokesperson Dale Carlson, discoveries made with CIRM money at such non-profit institutions are owned by the institution. But the state of California can claim a share of revenue of more than $500,000 generated on any resulting patents.

The prospect of California earning money from a Thomson discovery is noteworthy because researchers and watchdog groups have spearheaded a move to revoke patents for Thomson's work, owned by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation in Madison, on key human embryonic stem-cell research (see Nature 447, 16–17; 2007).

He is not the only researcher to take a job in California that could bring in CIRM funding — his colleague at Wisconsin, Clive Svendsen, has arranged a part-time consultancy at Stanford University in Palo Alto.