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This blog provides news and commentary on public policy, business and economic issues related to the $3 billion California stem cell agency, officially known as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine(CIRM). David Jensen, a retired California newsman, has published this blog since January 2005. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
“As a faculty member at UC Davis, I have seen first hand just how powerful the Bridges program has been and continues to be. I have trained and continue to train Bridges students. I have been incredibly impressed with their intellect, energy, and the sheer overall amount they have to contribute to stem cell research in California. The sky is the limit with these young scientists.”
“I think it's a tragic loss to mothball the equipment and shut down the training labs just when work in those labs is leading to the cures that are CIRM's mission. Some of our best-trained stem cell researchers are losing their jobs, just when they are most needed.”
“Perhaps this can be justified as a continuing effort to train more people for stem cell research, but where is the quantitative justification based on those who have already been trained?”
“Every one of the more than 20 Bridges interns that have worked in my lab are either in graduate school or have jobs as technicians.”Sphere: Related Content
“Training young people is critical to our mission of developing new therapies. As California’s stem cell industry continues to grow the state will face a critical shortage for biomedical laboratory workers trained in state-of-the-art techniques required by stem cell research labs. People who graduate from our Bridges programs will be ready to fill these positions and help California industry and academic labs maintain momentum in their search for cures.”
“The number one workforce need in this industry is hands-on practice and participation in multi-disciplinary, team-based research projects. Research experience is baked into the Bridges program; as a result, graduates have many career options. Despite the Great Recession, Bridges graduates have succeeded in landing jobs and gaining admittance to graduate and medical schools at much higher rates than peer groups.”
“I can say without doubt that the progress we have made developing our therapeutic candidate would not have been possible but for the tremendous support we have received from CIRM(the stem cell agency). Importantly, CIRM’s support has been multiplied, as it has helped us to secure other funding sources that we need to drive this project forward.”
“Good afternoon, I am Dr. Paul Laikind, president and CEO of ViaCyte.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the ICOC, the Grants Review Working Group, the CIRM staff and especially the citizens of California whom you all represent, for the continued support of the work we are doing at ViaCyte to develop what we all hope will be an important, innovative treatment for diabetes.
“CIRM has been a partner with us in this endeavor since the early days and your confidence and support has allowed us to make tremendous progress. Last month we were cleared by the Food and Drug Administration to begin clinical trials evaluating our stem cell-derived islet replacement therapy candidate in patients with type 1 diabetes. Following up on that exciting news, it was proudly announced just yesterday that the first center to enroll patients in this trial will be the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.
“To our knowledge this will be the first time an embryonic stem cell derived cell replacement therapy for diabetes will be tested in the clinic. This exciting development illustrates the importance of CIRM’s mission for medicine and for California. CIRM is all about breaking new ground, nurturing promising medical advances and stimulating our great state’s economy.
“I can say without doubt that the progress we have made developing our therapeutic candidate would not have been possible but for the tremendous support we have received from CIRM. Importantly, CIRM’s support has been multiplied, as it has helped us to secure other funding sources that we need to drive this project forward.
“Some will point out that that we are still at an early stage with this project and there is no denying that, there is much left to do and discover. However, together we have made tremendous progress and increased the odds of success with each milestone achieved. Whatever the outcome, CIRM has pushed the boundaries of medicine and is step by step bringing us closer to realizing the tremendous promise of regenerative medicine.
“Thank you again for the very important work you are doing.”
“To prevent even the appearance of a conflict of interest, CIRM employees should contact CIRM’s general counsel or deputy general counsel if the employee has begun discussions with a prospective employer that has received or is currently applying for CIRM funding. CIRM’s attorneys will maintain the confidence of this information and advise the employee of his or her obligations under state law, and the employee will be precluded from participating in any decisions relating to the prospective employer."
“I have three kids, and I know they could have the same thing I have. If they find a cure, for me, that’s peace of mind.”
“Under the proposed policy, CIRM team members (employees) would remain free to pursue other employment opportunities, including with CIRM-funded institutions. To prevent inadvertent violations of California’s conflict of interest laws and to ensure the integrity of CIRM’s decision-making process, however, the policy would request that CIRM employees notify CIRM legal counsel when the employee begins employment discussions with a CIRM grantee or current applicant. CIRM’s legal counsel will maintain the confidentiality of this information and advise the employee of the steps he or she needs to take to remain in compliance with the law. Thus, the policy balances the privacy interests of CIRM employees with the need to protect the integrity of CIRM’s decisions.”
“As Dr. Friedman recognized, CIRM has a highly talented team. It is therefore understandable that California institutions, including those that receive CIRM funds, would be interested in recruiting them. Currently, there is no prohibition on CIRM team members accepting employment from CIRM funded institutions, however I believe additional clarity regarding this topic would help avoid potential conflict of interest occurrences.”The board will act on the proposal at its meeting in Berkeley next Wednesday.
Our comment: The proposal will not eliminate revolving door problems at the nearly 10-year-old agency as it winds down its funding and employees may want to seek other employment. The proposal contains ambiguities that make it difficult to adhere to, such as the question of when employment discussions begin. It also does not contain any indication of the consequences for violation of the policy. However, coupled with the Mills’ personal declaration on future employment and the deplorable situation involving Trounson, the new policy helps make it clear that actions such as Trounson’s do not measure up to what is now expected at CIRM. Mills has also produced a fresh perspective on CIRM’s future finances that would stretch them out to 2020 instead of 2017, another action that removes an incentive for employees to consider seeking employment elsewhere.