San Francisco, CA – The University of California Santa Barbara is celebrating the opening of its Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering, the 12th and final stem cell research facility funded by the state stem cell agency, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).
“Our goal at the agency is not just to attract the best stem cell scientists to California but to also give them the specialized facilities that can accelerate their work,” says Alan Trounson, PhD, President of CIRM. “We are proud to have been part of the driving force behind this wonderful new facility at UC Santa Barbara.”
The agency awarded UCSB $3.2 million from its Major Facilities Grant Program; that was matched by $3.2 million from the university to convert and renovate 10,000 square feet of laboratory space into a state-of-the-art stem cell research facility, part of the Neuroscience Research Institute.
"We think UCSB can make important contributions to stem cell research at the interface of biology, neuroscience, and engineering,” says UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang. “The future is very bright as we continue to grow and add more top-notch researchers and faculty to this area. These new laboratories will make this possible."
Since the passage of Proposition 71 CIRM has awarded more than $270 million under the Major Facilities Grant Program and used it to attract almost $900 million more in private and philanthropic donations, to help build research facilities around California. These facilities are estimated to have created thousands of new jobs and $100 million in new tax revenue.
“This is the 12th facility that our funding has helped develop,” says former State Senator Art Torres, JD, Vice Chair of the Governing Board of the stem cell agency. “Those stretch from UC Davis near Sacramento to UC San Diego down south. Those buildings not only created world class research facilities, they also provided construction work at a time of record unemployment in that industry, and they generated new tax dollars for the state.”
CIRM funding also helped attract one of the new centers directors, Pete Coffey, PhD. UCSB used a CIRM new Leadership Award to recruit Coffey from the University College of London in the UK, where he was considered a rising star in the stem cell research field.
"To be part of UC Santa Barbara at this time is extremely exciting," said Coffey. "Today we're actually opening the center for stem cell biology and engineering, bringing two components together which are not available anywhere else in the world, engineering and stem cell biology together, to transform and actually speed what is very dear to my heart, which is the translation of science to it's clinical use."
About CIRM: CIRM was established in November 2004 with the passage of Proposition 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act. The statewide ballot measure, which provided $3 billion in funding for stem cell research at California universities and research institutions, was overwhelmingly approved by voters, and called for the establishment of an entity to make grants and provide loans for stem cell research, research facilities, and other vital research opportunities. A list of grants and loans awarded to date may be seen here: http://www.cirm.ca.gov/for-researchers/researchfunding.