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Stem Cell Agency Board Approves $5 Million in Emergency Funding for COVID-19 Research

OAKLAND, CA (US), March 2020 — In response to the crisis caused by the COVID-19 virus in California and around the world, the governing board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) in an emergency meeting approved $5 million in rapid research funds targeting the virus.

“These are clearly extraordinary times and they require an extraordinary response from all of us,” said Maria T. Millan, M.D., president and CEO of CIRM. “Our mission is to accelerate stem cell treatments to patients with unmet medical needs. California researchers have made us aware that they are pursuing potential stem cell-based approaches to the COVID-19 crisis and we felt it was our responsibility to respond by doing all we can to support this research and doing so as quickly as we possibly can.”

The board’s decision enables CIRM to allocate $5 million in funding for peer-reviewed regenerative medicine and stem cell research that could quickly advance treatments for COVID-19. The funding will be awarded as part of an expedited approval process.

To qualify, applicants would go through a full review by CIRM’s independent Grants Working Group. Approved projects will be immediately forwarded to the CIRM board for a vote

Projects approved by the board would go through an accelerated contract process to ensure funds are distributed as quickly as possible

“Our hope is that we can go from application to funding within 30 to 40 days,” said Jonathan Thomas, Ph.D., J.D., chair of the CIRM board. “This is a really tight timeframe, but we can’t afford to waste a moment. There is too much at stake. The coronavirus is creating an unprecedented threat to all of us and, as one of the leading players in regenerative medicine, we are committed to doing all we can to develop the tools and promote the research that will help us respond to that threat.”

Only projects that target the development or testing of a treatment for COVID-19 are eligible. They must also meet other requirements including being ready to start work within 30 days of approval and propose achieving a clear deliverable within six months. The proposed therapy must also involve a stem cell or a drug or antibody targeting stem cells.

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