The state agency overseeing the stem cell research mandated by the passage of Proposition 71 has partially funded a series of grants awarded last September, officials from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) announced today.

In all, 16 non-profit institutions in California received $12.1 million to train the next generation of stem cell researchers in the first grants awarded by the California stem cell agency. The UCLA Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine (ISCBM) received $1,231,802, the largest amount awarded by CIRM, in the first installment of a $3.75-million training grant approved in September.

UCLA stem cell institute officials said today they are pleased the grant has been partially funded after a sevenmonth delay prompted by legal challenges that impeded the state’s ability to sell approved general obligation bonds.

“Our program’s aim is to train basic scientists, engineers and physicians to become leaders in stem cell research and this grant will help us do that,” said Dr. Owen Witte, director of the UCLA stem cell institute, a professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. “These scientists will be trained from a multidisciplinary perspective, which is a distinctive feature of UCLA’s program.”

The ISCBM will train 16 pre-doctoral, post-doctoral and clinical research scholars. Each will be offered various training options, including working with faculty leaders in cell and molecular biology, gene medicine, cell-based therapies and organ transplantation. Witte said the training program also will accommodate those interested in the social, legal, ethical or policy aspects of stem cell research.