Tobacco funds to go to research

Members of the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Board are planning do to their homework before committing money for adult stem cell research.

“What we’re going to do is hear from the institutions that currently have something going on in adult stem cell research,” said Tracey Strader, who is the executive director of the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund.

Board members agreed Thursday to meet Sept. 24 to hear presentations and then get tips from advisers and those who fund research, such as the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology, on guidelines and restrictions on grants and other administrative decisions.

“We want to have a better understanding of what opportunities are there to leverage dollars,” Strader said.

The board earlier this year voted to use trust fund earnings for more than just tobacco cessation programs. It set aside $500,000 this fiscal year and $1 million each of the following five years.

“We need to have a rigorous and credible process in place,” Strader said.

It’s not known when the board will award the money. If this year’s allocation is not awarded, it will be carried over.

“It if actually works out that we actually get some research funded this year, we would be exceeding our expectations,” Strader said.

The board also approved a $19.9 million budget for this fiscal year, up from about $17.5 million the previous year. The increase is attributed to higher earnings on money placed in a trust from the 1998 tobacco settlement agreement.

About $5 million is allocated for the board’s tobacco cessation help line. More than 100,000 Oklahomans have called the number, (800) 784-8669, since it was established five years ago.


© Copyright: September 11, 2009 Newsok

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