Six states--California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and New York--have poured large amounts of state taxpayer funds into human embryonic stem cell research, and according to a letter just published, states now fund the majority of human embryonic stem cell research conducted in the United States. According to the letter, each year since 2007 these six states have funded more human embryonic stem cell research than the federal government.

In all, between December 2005 and the end of 2009, the six stem cell states awarded nearly 750 grants totaling just over $1.25 billion. California has so far given out over $1 billion. On a per capita basis, funding awarded through the end of 2009 ranges from just over $1 in Illinois to nearly $28 in California. California gave 75% of its grants for human embryonic stem cell research specificially, while Connecticut gave 97% of its designated stem cell funds for embryonic stem cell research.

The authors note that they only included states with programs to provide funding specifically to support stem cell research. Other states that have funded stem cell research as part of larger bioscience programs, e.g., Massachusetts and Wisconsin, were excluded from their analysis.

According to Aaron Levine, senior author:

"An interesting question going forward is how committed these scientists are to stem cell research or if they are relating their work to stem cells now simply to be eligible for state funding that's unknown right now."

The authors have created an online searchable database about each grant given out by the six states.

The information was published as a letter to the journal Nature Biotechnology