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State Awards Salk $5.18 Million in Stem Cell Research Grants

The State of California awarded Fred H. Gage, professor in the Laboratory of Genetics, $2.9 million for research to develop methods of turning human embryonic stem cells into neural stem cells.

The award, California's largest to date, was part of nearly 30 grants totaling $74.5 million allocated in March by the state's stem cell program for research intended to produce new treatments for incurable diseases.

Turning human embryonic stem cells into neural stem cells is a requirement for producing fully developed human brain cells. These would be useful in testing drugs for Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases. The state also awarded three additional Scientific Excellence through Exploration and Development (SEED) grants totaling $2.28 million to Salk. The funds will be used for human embryonic stem cell research and distributed over two years among laboratories headed by Senyon Choe, professor in the Structural Biology Laboratory, Beverly Emerson, professor in the Regulatory Biology Laboratory, and Sam Pfaff, professor in the Gene Expression Laboratory.

SEED grants are intended to bring new ideas and new investigators into the field of human embryonic stem cell research, and offer an opportunity for investigators to carry out studies that may yield preliminary data or proof-of-principle results that could then be extended to full-scale investigations.

All grants were approved by the 29-member Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC), which governs the board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).