Thursday, June 28, 2007

Amy Daly Statement on Bridge to Cures

We queried Amy Daly, executive director of the Americans for Stem Cell Therapies and Cures, concerning the proposal for a land development project and stem cell research center near Sacramento. Here is her response verbatim.

Bob and Angelo had been spending time talking about this project to fund therapy development around the same time that Americans for Stem Cell Therapies & Cures was holding a fundraising dinner at the home of Robin and Marsha Williams to retire the outstanding campaign debt. The suggested donation for a couple to attend this dinner was $125,000. Angelo is very supportive of stem cell research (as you can see by his incredible generosity with this project) and so he and his wife attended this dinner.

As far as the project referred to in the Sacramento Bee today, there are
many details that were discussed but not included in the article.

"No one tried to strangle Herceptin, but it came near to starving in the
cradle."

As you may be aware, there is a gap in funding in the life of therapy
development where many good ideas for therapies and cures die for lack of
funding. It is this funding gap that we hope to address with this project.
California Institute for Regenerative Medicine has focused (and we believe
will continue to focus) much of its funding to fill the funding gap in early
research. We hope to take the ideas that come from early research and safely
see them to the point in time where they are picked up by biotech and VCs.
An example of this funding gap is found in the history of the development of
Herceptin, as noted here:
http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/09/20/reviews/980920.20henigt.html?_r=1&oref
=slogin.

Without philanthropic financial support for Herceptin during that funding
gap, it would not have been developed to the point where Genentech picked it
up. It is now the number one choice for the treatment of certain types of
breast cancer and saves countless lives.

This project will create a non-profit to bridge that funding gap and we
believe it will be called Bridge to Cures. The family donating the land and
endowment funds, the Tsakopoulos family, have asked Bob to chair the board
of Bridge to Cures. The structure of the board will be similar to the
Independent Citizens Oversight Committee with the addition of Angelo and
Kyriakos Tsakopoulos and Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis. We expect that the
board will choose to have working groups make recommendations to them
similar to the working groups of California Institute for Regenerative
Medicine. We hope to inspire international collaboration by having board
members from world-class institutions from around the world. These
institutions, as well as UC Davis and other California institutions, will
also have the opportunity to have satellite lab space near the incubator
space that we are building for the therapy development.

This is an incredible opportunity to help further stem cell research and
mitigate human suffering and I am proud that our non-profit has chosen to
support this effort.

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