Tuesday, January 15, 2008

CHORI Lab Grant Bid Gets Help

The bid by Childrens Hospital Oakland Research Institute today received added support in its effort to reverse a negative decision on its application for a CIRM grant to build a stem cell facility that could help sickle cell anemia research.

The support came in the form of a letter from the Greenlining Institute of Berkeley, which has lobbied CIRM on minority issues in the past.

Here is the text of the missive to the Oversight Committee:

January 15, 2008

Dear Members of the ICOC,

The Greenlining Institute is a multi-ethnic public policy and advocacy organization that is dedicated to improving health outcomes for low-income communities of color in California. Our coalition includes civil rights, health, business, and faith-based organizations such as the First AME Church, the California Black Chamber of Commerce, the California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Asian Business Association, the Mexican American Political Association, the Southeast Asian Center, and the La Maestra Community Health Center.

We are disappointed that the application submitted by Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) to CIRM for a Facilities Grant was not approved by the CIRM Working Group Committee. As advocates for minority health and the elimination of health disparities, we do not believe that the working group appreciated that a proportion of CIRM funds provided by the vote of citizens of this State should be used to support programs that address the needs of underserved communities. We believe that the work CHORI proposes is likely to benefit a disproportionate number of citizens as a result of the ethnic diversity in this State. We understand that you have the authority to make the final decision on CHORI’s application and encourage you to approve it.

CHORI’s application included a plan to construct a new GMP cellular facility which would perform clinical and translational research using adult stem cells obtained from cord blood and from placenta. CHORI is recognized as a national resource for cord blood and placental cell studies, and in addition to basic research studies, it serves as a core resource for other investigators. CHORI staff have reported that 92% of children with sickle cell anemia have been cured following an HLA matched sibling cord blood stem cell transplantation. This information has previously been presented to ICOC and was enthusiastically supported. As less than 25% of patients with sickle cell anemia have a suitable donor for a stem cell transplant, the research proposed at CHORI has the potential to expand current transplantation practice in our State and throughout the nation. Not only will this impact health and quality of life, it will have an enormous beneficial economic effect. It appears that the working group did not appreciate the need for CHORI’s GMP facility to successfully carry out clinical trials that would benefit our State.

In light of the state’s swelling budget deficit, we cannot afford to ignore any portion of the state’s population—especially its most underserved. To better ensure that California’s diverse communities be included in the implementation of Proposition 71, we urge you to consider applicants for stem cell research grants who have demonstrated a historical commitment to serve the state’s diverse public. The Children’s Hospital of Oakland Research Institute is one such institution. Thus, we urge you to approve the application submitted by the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute at your meeting on
January 16 and 17, 2008.

Héctor Javier Preciado
Health Policy Director

Joe Araya Tayag
Program Manager, Health
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