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UC Davis, UC Merced and Buck Institute Cooperate to Meet Stem Cell Oversight Requirements

May 18, 2007

SACRAMENTO - Taking a cue from the state’s stem cell agency,
which has galvanized stem cell research and opened up lines of
communication among researchers in California, scientists at the
University of California, Merced and the Buck Institute for Age
Research in Marin County have established a cooperative agreement
with UC Davis to meet the oversight requirements of the California
Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) for stem cell research.

Through the agreement, UC Merced and the Buck Institute will use
a UC Davis Health System medical and ethical standards committee to
review any potential human subject research funded by CIRM. These
committees typically include knowledgeable scientists, physicians,
lawyers and community representatives, who assess safety and
related issues involved in conducting clinical research. While new
or small research institutions may have scientists who can
contribute to stem cell research efforts, often they lack the
institutional infrastructure necessary for appropriate medical and
ethical oversight.

“This type of collaboration strengthens California’s leadership
in stem cell research and moves it forward in an efficient, safe
and cost-effective manner,” said Ann Bonham, executive associate
dean for Academic Affairs at UC Davis Health System. “Fostering the
variety of research work now being done by talented scientists, no
matter where they work, offers a great chance that one day soon
we’ll see California also leading the way in turning that stem cell
research into actual therapies and cures.”

UC Davis has more than 20 scientists involved in various
research studies involving regenerative medicine. Its stem cell
oversight committee includes two veteran stem cell researchers,
several cell biology professors, a physician whose interests
include medical genetics, a public representative who is an
attorney, and a patient advocate from an Alzheimer’s disease organization.

“We’re tremendously pleased to see this kind of institutional
collaboration emerge from our funding,” said Sherry Lansing, a
member of the CIRM governing board and co-chair of the committee
that developed CIRM’s medical and ethical research regulations. “We
look forward to similar cooperation among other research centers.”

UC Davis frequently works with other institutions and community
partners and is also part of a clinical and translational science
consortium established by the National Institutes of Health that
emphasizes the sharing of resources wherever possible. Recently,
the university also formed a group of review boards for hospitals,
universities and local agencies in Northern California that
participate in human subjects research. UC Davis hopes to formally
create a similar panel for institutions conducting stem
cell-related research in the region.

“We’re grateful for UC Davis’ assistance in meeting CIRM’s

said UC Merced Vice Chancellor for Research Samuel J. Traina.
“It’s key for our commitment to responsible, ethical research in
the emerging area of stem cell science.”

The agreements among the three institutions emerged from a pair
of regional workshops on stem cell research oversight held earlier
this spring at Stanford University and the Burnham Institute for
Medical Research.

“This cooperative agreement is a win-win for all involved,” said
James Kovach, president and chief operating officer of the Buck
Institute, which is based in Novato. “Avoiding the need to build a
separate oversight committee helps CIRM monies go farther; and it
establishes working relationships that can be built on as all of us
move forward with stem cell research.”

Lansing noted that collaborative institutional oversight is
common when a project involves researchers at several universities
or other institutions.

This agreement is unusual because none of the participating
institutions are actually conducting research together.

“This is a mechanism to advance research generally, upholding
standards held in common by all three institutions,” said Lansing.
“It’s also a model for exactly the type of efforts that California
voters encouraged when they approved the state’s stem cell
initiative in 2004. It’s an innovative solution that helps expand
stem cell research, especially for smaller institutions.”

UC Davis has a variety of researchers working on a variety of
stem cell investigations in both Davis and Sacramento. It is
currently constructing a 100,000 square-foot stem cell research
facility on its campus in Sacramento, where scientists will have
access to state-of-the-art laboratories and cell manufacturing and
testing rooms. That facility will complement the university’s new
Clinical and Translational Science Center, which is designed to
expedite the translation and integration of scientific research
into discoveries and treatments that benefit society. In 2005, the
National Institutes of Health also awarded $6 million to fund a
Center of Excellence in Translational Human Stem Cell Research on
the Davis campus.

One of only two such centers in the nation, it is focused on
exploring stem and progenitor cell therapies for the treatment of
childhood diseases, including those that affect the blood and kidneys.

The Buck Institute is an independent non-profit organization
dedicated to extending the healthspan, the healthy years of each
individual’s life. The National Institute of Aging designated the
Buck a Nathan Shock Center of Excellence in the Biology of Aging,
one of just five centers in the country. Buck Institute scientists
work in an innovative, interdisciplinary setting to understand the
mechanisms of aging and to discover new ways of detecting,
preventing and treating age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s
and Parkinson’s disease, cancer, stroke, and arthritis.
Collaborative research at the Institute is supported by genomics,
proteomics and bioinformatics technology. For more information:

Governed by the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC),
the CIRM was established in 2004 with the passage of Proposition
71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative. The
statewide ballot measure, which provided $3 billion in funding for
stem cell research at California universities and research
institutions, was approved by California voters, and called for the
establishment of an entity to make grants and provide loans for
stem cell research, research facilities, and other vital research
opportunities. To date, the ICOC has approved 119 research grants
totaling more than $158 million. For more information, please visit