Despite budget woes, more stem cell grants coming soon

Members of a state panel will spend Tuesday reviewing grant applications to award another round of funding for stem cell research.

The Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee is expected to award $9.8 million in grants to researchers, part of the state’s 10-year, $100 million commitment to funding the work.

In previous years, then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell considered putting off the stem cell grants to put the money, which comes from the state’s tobacco settlement fund, toward budget deficits. But Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has made clear that he sees stem cell research as a potential source of economic development, and the grant awards are going forward even as his administration issued plans to cut $1.6 billion in state spending.

In four rounds of funding since 2006, the state has awarded close to $50 million to researchers at Yale, Wesleyan and UConn who are studying topics including epilepsy, cancer, Parkinson’s disease and heart attacks. The advisory committee that awards the grants includes physicians, biologists, a philosophy professor, a representative from the bioscience industry and a patient advocate.