Monday, April 18, 2005

Stem Cell Snippets: Dudes to Brownback

"Simply the most cost efficient” -- Sacramento Mayor Heather Fargo and UC Davis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef plumped for selection of the Capitol City as stem cell central in a piece in The Sacramento Bee. “Home prices here are 27 percent less than in Los Angeles, 40 percent less than in San Diego and roughly half those in the San Francisco Bay Area,” they wrote. But their main point was that Sacramento is “the place where the people come to be heard,” where the “public conducts the public business.”

“Dude, you obviously don't know Emeryville!” -- Inclusion of the little city of 10,000 among the finalists for the permanent stem cell agency HQ left some folks in Los Angeles mystified. Columnist Chip Johnson of the San Francisco Chronicle
explained why, at least in his view. Among the reasons is a certain vision. “In the early 1980s, when few people had ever heard the term biotechnology,” Johnson wrote, “Emeryville gave the thumbs up to three UC Berkeley professors who wanted to open a lab in Emeryville. Those men, William Rutter, Edward Penhoet and Pablo Valenzuela, are the founders of Chiron Corp., one of the largest biotech firms in the world.” Penhoet is now vice chairman of the stem cell agency.

Now Hiring – Just posted on the stem cell agency's Web site are new hiring plans. Over the next six to nine months, it will bring on as many as 15 full time scientists who will be responsible for reviewing and managing its scientific programs. The agency is looking for a strong background in basic or clinical biomedical research, including a Ph.D. and/or an M.D., post-doctoral experience as well as relevant experience. More information is available here, but it doesn't tell job seekers they might have to live in Sacramento to afford housing and commute to the pricey Bay Area.

Brownback's BanLocal Liberty, the blog of the Center for Local Government at the Claremont Institute, notes how doings in Washington, D.C., could affect this state. “More threatening” than lawsuits against CIRM in California “is United States Senator Sam Brownback's bill to ban all human cloning, even if the cloned embryo is prevented from growing in a womb, as California law requires. The CIRM plans to spend lots of its $3 billion to research human cloning in this manner.”

All Laid Out – The stem cell agency has posted its approved conflict of interest policies on its web site. The Sacramento Bee commented critically on the standards for working group members. “Unfortunately, institute leaders have proposed a deeply flawed policy, one that doesn't pass the good-government smell test....Institute staff will instruct the reviewers to recuse themselves from considering any grant decisions with which they have a conflict. No disclosure forms will be required. As a result, the institute's staff will have no ready mechanism for ensuring that reviewers are acting ethically. Nor will the public.”

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