Progress Toward Therapies: Research We Fund
In the Beginning
In 2006, when CIRM overcame legal battles and first began funding awards, scientists knew very little about the best ways of working with stem cells or of converting them into mature cell types that would be useful as therapies. What’s more, funding restrictions and legal concerns prevented many scientists from dedicating their labs to solving these issues, and not many graduate and undergraduate students were learning how to work with the cells, creating a shortage in the future stem cell lab workforce.
CIRM realized that if the goal was to generate new therapies, the first steps would need to be getting scientists into stem cell research, giving them space to work and ensuring that young people were entering the field. That’s why the first awards were dedicated to training young scientists, building new facilities and pulling California researchers into stem cell science.
Toward therapy development
In 2008 the agency awarded a small amount of money to encourage scientists to form teams and think about ways of turning their research into therapies (see a list of those awards here), and in 2009 the agency began investing in the possible future therapies that came out of those early awards (see those awards here). As CIRM’s early investments mature, the agency funds increasing numbers of awards with a therapeutic end goal.
Our stem cell Therapies in the Pipeline page lists all awards focusing on a specific disease therapy.
Investment in different types of stem cells
The projects in development include all types of stem cells, including approaches to activate stem cells within the body, and in some cases include several approaches to treating the same disease. We fund good science without regard to preconceived ideas about what will work because, as with the Chilean miners who were rescued in 2010, of three strategies we fund it might be plan C that succeeds.