Friday, March 13, 2009

Torres-Roth Election Attracts Media Attention

The board of the California stem cell agency today received more than its usual amount of news coverage as the result of the election of Art Torres and Duane Roth as vice chairs of the board of directors.

The reason for the attention is Art Torres. He is well known to the news media because of his lifelong career in politics. If the vice chair race had involved Duane Roth and Marcy Feit(another CIRM director), the election of a vice chair would have been barely noticed.

Most of the stories focused almost entirely on Torres and Roth. A notable and important exception was the piece on one of the websites of the influential magazine Nature.

Erika Check Hayden
reported on the election and much more from the meeting. Her story began:
"The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine has sharpened the agency’s focus on translating stem cell-based treatments into treatments, in the wake of President Barack Obama’s decision to loosen restrictions on federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research."
She touched on the funding crisis at the agency and its priorities, along with the struggle between basic science and translational research. She also had material from another CIRM meeting on March 11,
"'This push of getting out there to the clinic has some risks,' warned Arnold Kriegstein of the University of California San Francisco at the meeting. 'There’s a risk that little will be learned at great cost' if patients are harmed in poorly designed early clinical trials, Kriegstein said.

"And Warner Greene of UCSF’s Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology cautioned against 'turning over the reins' of basic science to the NIH: 'It’s foolish to expect now that the disease teams will succeed,' he said."
Terri Somers of the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote about the vice chair election. (Duane Roth is from the San Diego area.) Somers called the election "job sharing." She had this quote from CIRM director Francisco Prieto, a Sacramento physician, who spoke about compensation for the vice chairs,
"I believe that everyone should be compensated appropriately and fairly for the work they are going to do.In the context of the board and a state agency, to demand something like that excludes participation from anyone who isn't independently wealthy or cannot depend on outside income, which is a substantial portion of the population that needs to be represented here and everywhere else."
Torres was provided a $75,000 salary for halftime work. Roth has declined a salary.

The Los Angeles Times rarely covers the California stem cell agency, but again the draw was Torres in a story by Eric Bailey.

Other stories and writers included: Ron Leuty, San Francisco Business Times; Shane Goldmacher, Sacramento Bee's Capitol Alert; Juha-Pekka Tikka,, and The Associated Press. Sphere: Related Content

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