CA to financially encourage stem-cell study

California's stem-cell agency Wednesday awarded nearly $271 million in grants to build stem-cell laboratories statewide, with more than $126 million of that designated for universities and other research institutions in and around the Bay Area.

The money - coupled with additional money from the recipients and their donors - will generate more than $1.1 billion to build the facilities, lure faculty to work in them and cover other related costs.

Of the dozen universities and other research entities awarded money by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Stanford University received the biggest grant - $43.5 million. Together with the $181.8 million Stanford has raised from its donors and other sources, the university will have the largest total - $225 million - committed to the project.

The four-floor, 200,000-square-foot building Stanford plans to build along Campus Drive on the south side of its medical school will house researchers who now work out of several buildings on and off campus. Stanford also hopes to recruit other faculty to work in the new building.

"We will bring together a group of scientists interested in all aspects of stem-cell biology and cancer stem-cell research," according to a statement issued by Dr. Irving Weissman, who directs the university's Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine Institute.

The state agency also granted $34.8 million to University of California-San Francisco, $20.5 million to Buck Institute for Age Research in Novato, $20.1 million to University of California-Berkeley and nearly $7.2 million to University of California-Santa Cruz.

University of California-Davis received $20 million.

"This is truly a momentous day for all of us," said Arnold Kriegstein, director of the Institute for Regeneration Medicine at UC-San Francisco, during a news conference in Los Angeles, where the grants were announced. "We're very excited by what has been made possible today."

Dr. Alan Trounson, the stem-cell agency's president, said the money will help ensure the state's place in medical history.

"California will be a landmark, it will be the epicenter of the new medicine."

In a prepared statement, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the grants could lead to discoveries that "could save lives," adding that "this kind of public-private investment in a growing jobs sector is exactly the kind of good news our economy needs right now."