Investment in biomedical research by the federal government has been in steady decline for several decades, despite many analyses that show that investing in scientific research benefits not just human health, but the local, state and national economy. These are some of the many reasons why it is so important that on Nov. 3, 2020 Californians chose to re-invest in regenerative medicine research by voting for proposition 14. We salute the California electorate for its leadership of the nation in this area.
The mission of the faculty, students and staff of the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center (SCRC) remains to understand how stem cells work and can be harnessed to repair things like diseases of the eye and brain, or to do things like heal the skin and target cancer stem cells. Critical research efforts have continued within SCRC laboratories, along with new efforts on COVID-19 research. Our Alpha Stem Cell Clinic is partnering with City of Hope for a clinical study on the use of convalescent plasma as a potential treatment for COVID-19. This work today, and for the last 10 years, has been fueled by the research engine that Californians created with the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). The best way for UCI to bring these research dollars to Orange Country and keep our work going it to leverage this funding by supporting early ideas.
Early seed grants give new projects a head start, increasing their potential to win state and federal funding and be successful. Since our seed grant program began in 2014, the Stem Cell Research Center has awarded $544,000 in initial funding for 17 projects, an average of $32,000 for a one year period. These early grants have led to a 20-fold return on investment in the form of more than $11M in new grants from state, federal or major foundation sources.
As a national leader and Orange County’s only combined academic health system and research university, we are on the verge of so many exciting innovations, leading to unparalleled expertise and care for our patients. But we can’t do it without you. Your support makes it possible to move groundbreaking discoveries from our research labs to patient bedside care. This new year will shine brighter for all of us because of the extraordinary promise of stem cells and regenerative medicine in healthcare.