The Niche

CIRM signs agreement to collaborate with Germany on stem cell research

The California Institute of Regenerative Medicine has collected a sixth country for its international collaborations. German and Californian scientists will be able to submit joint grants for collaborative projects that focus on immunology. Researchers would, however, be funded by their respective governments.

(See CIRM’s melting pot of collaborators)

At a signing ceremony in CIRM’s office in San Francisco, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Freider Meyer-Krahmer described the new memorandum of understanding as opening up “totally new ways of collaboration” with perhaps three or more countries coming together. “Not just the researchers but also the funders collaborate.”

CIRM president Alan Trounson said the agreement grew out of past meetings between German and Californian scientists who had identified ways that they wanted to work together, particularly on ways to understand how transplanted cells will interact with patients’ immune system. Officials declined to state the amount of funds that would be involved, but Trounson said that governments must commit a certain minimum amount of funds, on the order of $1 million to $2 million dollars to “make the paperwork worthwhile.”

The officials said that the collaboration would avoid duplication and allow researchers to capitalize on advantages within both jurisdictions. Both Trounson and CIRM chair Robert Klein praised German work conducting large clinical trials in adult stem cells.

Each government will conduct their own ratings of the submitted grants, said officials, but they would establish a mechanism to make sure that both CIRM and German granting agencies would be awarding grants to the same teams.

CIRM plans to pursue additional agreements in the near future, particularly with U.S. state governments that have allocated funds to stem cell research. Agreements are already in place with Australia, Canada, Japan, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

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