CA stem cell agency counts rewards from $1.1B bonanza

What does $1.1 billion in grant money buy you these days? According to California's stem cell agency, the answer is 2,739 new jobs a year. And most of those new jobs are tightly concentrated among scientists, lab assistants and the construction workers who are building their new digs.

Some of those new research jobs are being created in small biotech outfits like ViaCyte, which used a $26.3 million grant to build up a staff of 40 workers. The CIRM "is our largest single source of funding at this point," CEO John West tells the San Diego Union-Tribune, one of several newspapers in California to get an advanced copy of the report. The biotech is working on new stem cell therapies for diabetes.

The stem cell agency still has a long way to go. It was authorized to hand out $3 billion in stem cell grants. And so far the agency can boast of $844 million in matching grants and a projected 25,000 new jobs from the first billion that has been distributed.

"This report demonstrates that we've delivered on the economic promise (of the funding program) today, even as we continue to see strong positive milestones on the research side progressing rapidly toward therapies," said Robert Klein, CIRM chairman.

- read the Sacramento Bee report
- and here's the story from the San Diego Union-Tribune