Thursday, October 29, 2009

Disease Team awards announced

Novel funding mechanism speeds the path of research, News Release, California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), October 28, 2009. Excerpt:
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the state stem cell agency, and two international partners awarded more than $250 million to 14 multidisciplinary teams of researchers in California, the UK and Canada to develop stem cell-based therapies for 11 diseases. The Disease Team Research Awards include approximately $8 million from the Medical Research Council, UK, and approximately $35 million from the Cancer Stem Cell Consortium, Canada, to fund the international portions of the collaborations.
See also:
  • Two Research Teams Funded through the Innovative Partnership Program Between Canada and California to Advance Cancer Stem Cell Research, News Release, Cancer Stem Cell Consortium (CSCC), October 28, 2009. Excerpts:
    The Cancer Stem Cell Consortium (CSCC) is pleased to announce that two multi-disciplinary research teams co-led by Canadian and Californian scientists have been awarded funding through a Collaborative Partnership Program with The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). The program supports research that will result in a cancer stem cell based therapy with the specific aim of improving cancer treatment.
    The first project is led by Dr. John Dick, University Health Network and Dr. Dennis Carson, University of California, San Diego. Their research will focus on the development of novel drugs to treat leukemia, which will address a compelling medical need as half of adults diagnosed with leukemia die of the disease. Substantial evidence supports the concept that recurrence and persistence of many leukemias stem from the relative resistance of leukemic stem cells (LSCs) to treatments currently in use, so the development of drugs that preferentially target LSCs may be particularly valuable in attacking both lymphoid and myeloid malignancies.
    The goal of the second project is to utilize a pipeline strategy to develop novel drugs targeting cancer-initiating cells in solid tumor cancers. This project is led by Dr. Tak Mak, University Health Network and Dr. Dennis Slamon, UCLA. The reviewers of this application determined that the proposed drugs would provide a significant clinical benefit to cancer patients and recognized the unique capabilities of the assembled team to successfully identify and develop new drugs.

  • New Canadian-Californian investment in stem cell research aims to improve cancer treatments by Michael Rudnicki, Stem Cell Network Blog, October 28, 2009. First paragraph:
    I am excited to learn of today’s announcement that two large-scale projects to tackle stem cell therapies for cancer are to be funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and the Cancer Stem Cell Consortium (CSCC). This is most welcome news, not only because it demonstrates a continued investment in stem cell science but because both projects have a critical Canadian component – both projects will be co-led by Canadian investigators.

Comment: Instead of the eleven likely winners of Disease Team awards, 14 awards were announced. See the list of "Approved Disease Team projects" that's included in CIRM's news release. This list can be compared with the listing of all applications reviewed under RFA 09-01, posted previously by CIRM. The 3 additional awards (to bring the total to 14) were to application numbers DR1-01480, DR1-01485 and DR1-01421.

Disclosure: I'm a member of the Board of the CSCC, but also a staff member (emeritus) at the University Health Network. So, I was in conflict of interest, and was absent during all of the discussions, by the CSCC Board, about which Canadian applications should be considered for the Disease Team awards.


  1. Application number DR1-01421, "Stem Cell-mediated Therapy for High-grade Glioma: Toward Phase I-II Clinical Trials" (Karen Aboody, Principal Investigator) received one of the 3 additional awards that were made, in addition to the 11 initially recommended by the Grants Working Group (GWG). For a blog post about this particular award, see: City of Hope Wins Initial Appeal by David Jensen, California Stem Cell Report, October 28, 2009.

  2. About the award to Drs. John Dick and Dennis Carson: Leukemia under the microscope by Scott Lafee, San Diego Union Tribune, February 1, 2010.

  3. An item about the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine Partnership Program has been added to the Cancer Stem Cell Consortium webpage of the Ontario Genomics Institute. At present, it provides information about one of the two projects funded through the CSCC-CIRM Partnership, Development of Highly Active Anti-Leukemia Stem Cell Therapy (HALT). The lead investigators of the CSCC-supported project are John Dick and Jean Wang of the University Health Network in Toronto. The lead investigators of the CIRM-supported project are Dennis Carson and Catriona Jamieson of the Moores UCSD Cancer Center in San Diego.