Dr. Magnuson, PhD, Vice Dean for Research and chair of the Department of Genetics at the UNC School of Medicine, and a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, served as vice-chair of the Institute of Medicine commission on the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), whose report was released on Dec. 6.
The report credits CIRM with establishing California as an international hub for research focused on regenerative medicine. In the seven years since California’s voters approved a $3 billion bond referendum to support research in this area, investigators have produced more than 40 patent applications, three licensing agreements and attracted more than $1 billion in matching research funds.
Dr. Magnuson said that the state’s particular embrace of stem cell research at a time when political controversy had frozen certain aspects of stem cell funding at the federal level shows the value of publically funded state investments in the basic sciences. In addition to the basic research and infrastructure funds, Magnuson pointed to innovative educational programs such as the Bridges Program, a program aimed at encouraging community college students to enter the fields of stem cell research and clinical applications.
“In a very short time, CIRM transformed California into a major center for regenerative medicine research,” said Dr. Magnuson.
The report also suggested improvements in the CIRM model, advising the creation of an external advisory board for strategic advice on research directions, changing rules and procedures to reduce the risk of conflicts of interest in its governing board and assuring that the composition of the board allows for independent oversight. Copies of the report are available at The National Academies Press at www.nap.edu.
Dr. Magnuson was recruited to UNC in 2000 as founding chair of the Department of Genetics and director of the newly established Carolina Center for Genome Sciences. He also created the Cancer Genetics Program in the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Magnuson was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007 and the Institute of Medicine in 2012.
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