Tuesday, February 23, 2010

CIRM Directors to Take Position on Affordability, Accountability Measure

Directors of the California stem cell agency on March 4 will take their first public look at new legislation aimed at ensuring affordable access to therapies financed by taxpayers, including proposals to improve accountability and openness at the state research effort.

Also on the table at the meeting of the directors' Legislative Subcommittee is legislation to create a state board to deal with umbilical cord-blood matters.

Already three leaders on the CIRM board, Chairman Robert Klein, vice chairmen Art Torres and Duane Roth, have publicly opposed the affordability and accountability legislation as unnecessary. The CIRM board has successfully resisted every effort over the last few years by lawmakers to make changes in agency operations.

However, this year CIRM has declared that it needs to bypass the voter-approved limit on its staff at 50 persons, an action that the legislation would allow. The restriction was written into the law via Prop. 71 by Klein and others along with caps on agency spending. On the surface, removing the cap would seem to require a 70 percent vote of the legislature, also imposed by Prop. 71. But Klein says the agency is considering unspecified alternatives that would not require a vote of the legislature to avoid the restriction.

Earlier this month, Sen. Elaine Kontominas Alquist of San Jose, chair of the Senate Health Committee, introduced the accountability legislation (SB1064), declaring that CIRM is “essentially accountable to no one.” Introduction of the measure followed recommendations from a sister state panel to CIRM, calling for increased openness and transparency. The action apparently triggered two harsh newspaper editorials concerning CIRM.

The umbilical cord blood measure (AB52) is authored by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-Pasadena. In addition to creating a new state board beginning next January and raising fees on copies of birth certificates to fund it, the measure specifically mentions CIRM. It says,
"California pioneered the first sibling donor cord blood pilot project, and is a world leader in the more general area of stem cell research and its medical applications through the establishment and funding of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). This makes California ideally situated to become the leader in harnessing the therapeutic potential of nonhematopoietic cord blood-derived stem and progenitor cells."
In addition to the Legislative Subcommittee location at CIRM headquarters in San Francisco, the public can participate in the session at teleconference locations in La Jolla, Davis and Menlo Park. The specific addresses should be posted on the agenda in the next day or two. Comments also may be submitted to the board via email. Sphere: Related Content


  1. Let's wait for the board meet if something good comes out.

  2. We should have more openness in testing and funds availability to the organizations for treatments like stem cell research . Stem cell treatments are going play a major role and change way of medical sciences in the near future.