Thursday, December 21, 2006

San Jose Merc: 'It's Working.'

The California stem cell agency is continuing to bask in the light of several recent pieces in the mainstream media that portray CIRM in a generally favorable light.

The most recent came as an editorial today in the San Jose Mercury News, which said:
"Two years into the great California stem-cell adventure, here's everything curious taxpayers need to know about their $3 billion investment:

"It's working.

"Prominent researchers continue to flock to California. Confidence in the endeavor is so high that grants and gifts from private sources to California researchers have totaled more than $200 million so far. The feeble lawsuit challenging the program's legality should be history before June. And regulations are in place to govern the state agency in charge of distributing the $3 billion in grants, the first of which should be awarded in a matter of weeks.

"Given the nature of scientific research, it will take well over a decade to fully evaluate the state's stem-cell experiment. But it's already clear that, thanks to California voters, the United States is poised to become a world leader in one of the most promising areas of medical research today. That was not the case before Proposition 71 was passed in November 2004."
One CIRM staffer, who pointed with some pride to the editorial, noted that the agency's situation is a far cry from last year at this time. And he is right.

But the editorial also noted that the agency should revisit its "policy on transparency to shore up public trust. At a minimum, members of its working groups evaluating grant applications should be required to publicly disclose any conflicts of interests." Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:01 PM

    I have been very disappointed in the press "reprints" of Klein or CIRM handouts. e.g. "Prop 71 was for esc research"...NOT! Every time ESCs were mentioned, "and other progenitor cells" got equal billing. At the 2006 Burrill stem cell conference it was clear that adult stem cell work is way ahead of ESC research--I believe Prop 71 aimed to get stem cell therapies approved asap yet no support for the most immediate oppordtunities is forthcoming. CIRM's conference in October 2005 dramatically underscored the biggest and most expensive hurdle for the field (s?), that of clinical trials, requiring cGMP facilities, etc. The early research that CIRM currently funds is the cheapest phase, and when you give the money to university or institute researchers fully 50% will go to "indirect costs" i.e. general university funds, NOT research. Lastly, at major stem cell conferences the disclaimers from big guns in the field shows that they know where the action really is, in the companies they found (see your observation about Irv Weissman, for example). CIRM is strictly stone-age stuff in my thinking, and even Don Reed is tolerating it.
    Next CIRM head man, I nominate Ron Eastman, former Geron head, board at the Buck Center for Aging, and current cell biology leadership experience.

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