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SAN FRANCISCO-The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine voted Wednesday to distribute $271 million to 12 institutions to build stem cell research facilities throughout California. The institutions have committed an additional $900 million to construct the facilities, build out the labs and attract the necessary faculty to conduct the research, all within the next 24 months.

To be built at public and private universities across the state, the research facilities will total nearly 800,000 sf. The accelerated construction schedule is expected to create thousands of construction jobs in an otherwise unstable economic climate.

The Institute was established in 2004 with the passage of Proposition 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative, and is funded through the sale of 30-year stem cell research bonds. The Institute was set up to distribute $3 billion in state funds for stem cell research to California universities and research institutions over 10 years.In 2005, 250 King St. in San Francisco was selected as the Institute’s headquarters. The city’s incentive package included free hotel and conference facilities, with architectural design services donated by Gensler and tenant improvements provided by Hathaway Dinwiddie. The building owner, Terry Francher, and the state Department of General Services executed the no-cost lease for the space.

The Institute’s Major Facilities Grant program was launched in August 2007. That fall, the Institute evaluated the scientific merit of 17 proposals and early in 2008 invited 12 institutions to advance to the second and final part of the application process. The proposals were then evaluated for the technical aspects of their building program and how their scientific program aligns with the CIRM’s objectives, and why the program represents a good value for California taxpayers’ investment.

The 12 institutions had originally requested $336 million in funding from CIRM. CIRM scored each proposal on set criteria and then reduced each institution’s request by the percentage their score was below 100. To help reduce the funding gap, CIRM offered the institutions the opportunity to receive their award this summer, minus 9%, rather than two years from now at project completion as was initially contemplated. Eight institutions decided to take the award now.

To be built specifically for stem cell research, the buildings are expected to be a draw for researchers outside California whose work is hindered by the lack of federal support. Indeed, researchers working with human embryonic stem cells are restricted from using federally funded facilities or equipment in any work with stem cell lines created after Aug. 9, 2001.

Stanford University received the Institute’s biggest award, $43.57 million, which it will combine with $156.4 million from donors and university coffers to build a four-floor, 200,000-sf building to be located on the south side of the medical school along Campus Drive. Designed by Zimmer Gunsul Frasca, it will bring together under a single roof researchers working with adult, embryonic, cancer and reprogrammed stem cells that currently are spread between buildings on campus and an off-campus satellite lab.

The University of California at San Francisco will receive approximately $34.9 million from the Institute. It will combine the grant it with $100 million from its own coffers to construct a 74,000-sf building off Medical Center Way on its Parnassus campus, which has not seen a new research facility since the mid-1960s. The building is being designed by Rafael Viñoly of New York.

Nine other state universities received grants from the Institute, as well as Buck Institute for Age Research and the San Diego Consortium for Regenerative Medicine. The facilities grants mark CIRM’s sixth round of funding. Previous grants have gone to postdoctoral researchers, scientists just starting stem cell projects, established stem cell researchers, new faculty and shared research spaces.

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