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Trenton - The New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology today awarded the nation's first public funding for  research on human embryonic stem cells, approving a total of $5 million  available immediately to 17 researchers at university, nonprofit institution  and corporate labs in New Jersey for ground-breaking research into  potential therapies for devastating and debilitating disorders.


The Commission received 71 complete applications for New Jersey's initial $5 million Stem Cell Research  Grant program by the Oct. 14 deadline. Proposals were evaluated by both scientific and ethics review panels  before being voted on today during a public meeting at Thomas Edison State College in Trenton.

The Commission today voted to provide up to $300,000 over two years for promising research using human  embryonic stem cells (hESC), as well as mouse embryonic stem cells and so-called "adult" stem  cells. The list of award recipients is attached; more information is available at www.state.nj.us/scitech

"The Commission is proud that Governor Codey gave us this opportunity to advance New  Jersey's position as a leader in scientific research" said Donald L. Drakeman, chairman of the  Commission.

The Commission was gratified by the diversity among grant applications, with successful research proposals  addressing crucial fundamental questions about how stem cells work, how to use stem cells for treating  devastating conditions such as heart disease, brain injury, spinal cord injury and autoimmune diseases and  how to advance New Jersey's position as a leader in stem cell research.

The Commission today also gathered comments from technology industry representatives for the final version  of a High-Tech Recovery Plan for Governor-Elect Corzine. The plan, unveiled during a Nov. 30 press conference  at the State House, is based on an economic analysis prepared for the Commission by Rutgers University  economists James Hughes and Joseph Seneca of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.

The report, "An Economy at Risk: The Imperatives for a Science and Technology Policy for New  Jersey" reveals that New Jersey's high-technology employment has plummeted to below 1990  job levels, moving from 285,300 in 1990 to 322,600 in 2000 and then falling 14.6 percent to 275,500 in 2004.

For example, the report states, total pharmaceutical employment grew more than 40 percent nationally from  1990-2004 -- but New Jersey lost 1,700 pharma jobs (4 percent).

The High Tech Recovery Plan features near-, mid- and long-term actions designed to encourage creation of  intellectual property, development of commercial products based on that intellectual property and promotion of  an entrepreneurial business climate. The Commission will soon present the updated Plan to Gov.-Elect  Corzine.

"We believe it is time for New Jersey to have a clear Science and Technology Policy," Dr.  Drakeman said. "We are glad Governor-Elect Corzine's vision for an Edison Innovation Fund  encompasses many of the steps we have outlined and we are ready to work with the new administration to  carry it out."