San Diego Business Journal

A governing board with the state's stem cell agency awarded $24 million in grants June 27 to help fund collaborative research on specific diseases and injuries and to further advances in new lines of human embryonic stem cells.

Altogether, San Diego researchers garnered almost $5 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, a $3 billion state-funded agency created by the passage of Proposition 71.

A majority of the funding , $4.7 million , will go to scientists with the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, Salk Institute for Biological Studies and UC San Diego who will come up with new methods in pluripotent human stem cells, the kind of cells that self-renew and can turn into almost any other type of cell in the human body.

Steven Dowdy, a UCSD professor of cellular and molecular medicine and Howard Hughes Medical Center investigator, will use a $1.4 million grant for finding new approaches to generating stem cell lines from human skin.

The rest of the $5 million, or $266,898, will be used to begin assembling multi-disciplinary teams that will help prepare proposals for some major upcoming disease team grants. Scientists with the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, Novocell, Salk Institute for Biological Studies and UC San Diego will collaborate on the project.

San Diego-based stem cell engineering company Novocell, which received $48,950, was the lone for-profit entity on the disease team grants list. In February, Novocell said it had discovered a way to coax human embryonic stem cells to evolve into insulin-producing cells to control blood-sugar levels in mice with diabetes.

, Heather Chambers