As reported by The Hartford Courant, June 7, 2006.

Stem Cell Funds Draw Interest of 77 Scientists

State Panel to Distribute $20 Million for Research

By William Hathaway

More than 70 Connecticut scientists plan to ask for more than $60 million to study stem cells, a committee charged with divvying up grant money was told Tuesday.

The state stem cell research advisory committee received 77 letters from scientists or institutions expressing interest in applying for grants from Connecticut, one of only three states to approve funding for stem cell research. However, if all the interested applicants submit formal applications for money next month, most will be disappointed. The state has allocated only $20 million for funding this year.

Yet the level of interest and quality of proposals pleased committee members who expect to dole out the money this fall.

"This is the first clear indication we have had that we are on the right track," said M. William Lensch, a researcher at Children's Hospital Boston and member of the advisory committee. "I'm incredibly pleased to see what has come in."

The stem cell committee, however, still has several key issues to resolve. For instance, Yale University and the University of Connecticut have collectively applied for $12.5 million to build three facilities that would enable their researchers to study new lines of human embryonic stem cells. New facilities are needed because President Bush, who opposes such research on moral grounds, has ruled that scientists cannot use equipment or buildings purchased with federal funds to conduct research with human embryonic cells created after the summer of 2001.

If all three facilities were funded, that would leave less than $8 million for actual research.

The committee expects to get formal proposals next month and then submit them for peer review to a panel of five scientists. Those scientists have agreed to review the applications and submit recommendations to the committee by October, when the money is expected to be disbursed.