The ballot measure would authorize the state to sell $5.5 billion in bonds to revive the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, a program created by a 2004 initiative for stem cell research. CIRM doled out nearly $2.7 billion in grants to research institutions and biotech companies before it closed last year.
Proposition 14 would restart the program, which provided 256 grants totaling $703.7 million to 15 institutions and companies in L.A. County, according to CIRM data.
L.A. County accounted for 24% of 1,052 CIRM grants statewide and 26% of the total statewide grants of $2.69 billion.
“These CIRM allocations were more or less proportional to the county’s share of National Institutes of Health grants every year,” said Ahmed Enany, chief executive of the Southern California Biomedical Council, a downtown-based industry association.
NIH grants, he said, primarily support basic and translational research, just as these stem cell research grants did.
The majority of the CIRM grants to L.A. County entities went to research universities and programs at major medical institutions. Only a fraction went to private companies.
UCLA topped the list of recipients in L.A. County with 120 grants totaling $307.1 million. That was second statewide to Stanford University’s 144 grants totaling $388.1 million.
In March 2005, four months after voters passed Proposition 71, UCLA set up its own stem cell research institute to capture some of the funds from the proposition. After the Broad Foundations donated $20 million in 2007, the institute was renamed the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research.
“UCLA founded the Broad Stem Cell Research Center with the goal of bringing together experts from across our campus to realize the tremendous potential of stem cell research,” said Stephen Smale, vice dean for medical research at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. “These efforts have already resulted in life-saving treatments for children with certain genetic immune deficiencies and new clinical trials of much needed-treatments for cancers, blinding eye conditions and sickle-cell disease,” he added.
City of Hope’s Beckman Research Institute in Duarte came in second in L.A. County with 41 grants totaling $117.8 million. USC’s Health Sciences campus was right behind with 39 grants totaling $114.1 million. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Grove was fourth with 24 grants totaling $72.1 million. Rounding out the top five was Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, which received 14 grants totaling $32.4 million.
The highest-ranking private company
CIRM data did not break out individual grants or what specific area of research was targeted for each grant.
Supporters of Proposition 14 say the 2004 bond measure jump-started research into stem cell treatments for a wide range of diseases. The 2020 measure, they say, will continue the research, but also fund efforts to bring some of the treatments to market.
Opponents contend the original program yielded little in the way of promised treatments for diseases.
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