The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has approved grants totaling over $50 million to fund dedicated laboratory space for culturing human embryonic stem cells. The grants will go to design, build, and renovate core laboratories to be used by multiple investigators and multiple institutions. This brings the total award value of grants awarded by CIRM to just over $208 million.

Next year, CIRM is slated to award an additional $222 million in grants for the development of major research facilities. In public meetings to set criteria for these grants, a slate of researchers described the need for more infrastructure. “Lack of space has now become the rate-limiting step,” said Jeffrey Bluestone, who heads the Diabetes Center at the University of California, San Francisco.

CIRM was established in 2004 after California voters approved a measure to provide $3 billion to fund stem cell research. US federal funding cannot be used for research for hES cells unless they were derived before August 2001.

Of the 22 applications received by CIRM, 17 were selected for grants: Salk Institute for Biological Studies; Buck Institute for Age Research; Scripps Research Institute; University of California, Davis; University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, Santa Cruz; Children's Hospital of Los Angeles; University of California, Riverside; Burnham Institute for Medical Research; The J. David Gladstone Institutes; Stanford University; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Irvine; University of California, Santa Barbara; University of California, San Diego; University of California, San Francisco; and University of Southern California. Six of these institutions will also provide courses to train researchers in hES cell research.