Sunday, March 06, 2005

Not Everyone Buying...

An insight into the dynamics of the new California stem cell agency was presented on Sunday in an editorial in The Sacramento Bee. The headline on the piece was "Cell Break." Here is an excerpt:

"During Tuesday's meeting at Stanford University, Klein asked the committee for sole authority to respond to the (Lee-Halpern) petition, with no discussion of its merits. It was a remarkable power grab, but not everyone was buying.

"The first dissenter was Dr. Francisco Prieto, a Sacramento physician appointed to the committee by state Treasurer Phil Angelides. Prieto said the petition had "substantive points" for discussion. He was joined by Dr. Michael Friedman, another Angelides appointee who heads City of Hope, a Southern California cancer research and treatment center.

"From that point on, Klein lost control of the proceedings. The committee wasted 30 minutes debating whether to write a perfunctory response to Halpern and Lee or - horrors! - actually meet with them. The most shameful performance was by David Serrano Sewell, who suggested the petitioners were plotting a "judicial intervention." (Note to Sewell: Lee is a distinguished health official who supports stem cell research. He deserves more respect than you granted him.)

"Later, Klein tried to vest authority in a subcommittee to devise $15 million to $25 million in grants to train scientists and create "centers of excellence" for stem cell research. Dr. Claire Pomeroy of UC Davis rightly questioned this delegation of authority, and the matter was put off to the next meeting.

"What we are witnessing is the natural tension between doing things fast, and doing things right. As we have stated earlier, California's landmark stem cell research program holds enormous promise for treating diseases. But by trying to strong-arm every decision, Klein may actually be slowing down the process - by infuriating colleagues and emboldening opponents."

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