Sunday, March 14, 2010

California Stem Cell Matters: What Do You Think?

Evan Snyder of the Sanford-Burnham Institute takes issue with the headline we wrote last Thursday concerning CIRM approval of more cash for his research.

The headline read: “Burnham's Snyder Receives $1.85 Million More Despite Faulty Application.”

The full text of his remarks can be found in the item below. He says the headline uses “pejorative phraseology” and “betrays an absence of journalistic impartiality.”

We responded to Snyder in an email and offered to run his comments verbatim. We gave him and are now passing along to all our readers some thoughts on what we do on this web site and what can be expected by our readers and those we write about.

We appreciate Snyder's point of view and understand where it is coming from. However, the blog has never pretended to be "objective." It offers commentary, news and information on the matters dealing with the California stem cell agency. Because of the dearth of third-party information on the agency, I do considerable basic reporting and information-gathering, far more than is done by most bloggers. I also provide explanation and analysis of the information that is gathered. And, yes, I offer my opinion from time to time.

That said, many legitimate points of view exist on these matters, including Snyder's. I am more than glad to carry his remarks as well as those last week. They provided an important addition to understanding how research comes about.

One of the major weaknesses of the mainstream media is their inability to provide ample room for many points of view. One of the strengths of the Internet is that it provides a venue for many more voices, something we encourage on the California Stem Cell Report.

For some time now, CIRM Chairman Robert Klein and CIRM President Alan Trounson have had a standing offer from us to run verbatim their comments on stem cell topics of their choice. Recently, we notified all the CIRM directors that they have the same opportunity – something that does not occur in the traditional, mainstream media. In addition, we encourage comments directly on items, which can be done by clicking on the word “comments” at the end of each piece. We encourage readers to use their names when they provide commentary, but understand that in some cases important comments can be made only anonymously. That has to do with the tiny size of the California stem cell community and the extremely powerful financial role that CIRM plays in it.

Feel free to comment on this item or simply send me your thoughts via this email address:


  1. Anonymous9:28 PM

    Since you asked... If I had reviewed Snyder's grant, I would not have funded it. This all smacked of a cocky applicant that did not respect CIRM money or objectives. Sorry, but I don't think any team like that, including Snyder's is worth it, or money well spent. It smacks of paying for celebrity over quality, hard work and people willing to work within the rules.Sending Snyder back to the drawing board would not have been the end of the world. You were perfectly within reason to point out the issues. Me thinks Snyder protests too much; a feeling of entitlement perhaps?

  2. Anonymous9:04 AM

    Thanks, David, for the service you provide. I choose to remain anonymous for probably obvious reasons but let me say the California stem cell community thanks you. Most of the Directors read your blog frequently. They may not agree with you, but you provide important information and opinions as well as promoting the cause of openness. I myself feel you are too harsh on CIRM a lot of the time, but it's your blog so who am I to say you can't say your opinion?

    Dr. Snyder needs to mellow out and count himself lucky he got a gianormous new grant. My advice to him would be stop talking about himself so much and how great his grant was, be a bit more humble, and move on with what I think is his very important research.

  3. Anonymous11:53 AM

    I agree with both of the above comments.

    I'd also like to send an end to the "patients will die" meme that CIRM, its grantees and allies run everytime there's an issue about a grant (like Snyder's) or a proposed change to CIRM's governance. It's so Bushian, like criticizing the Iraq was only to be told you're unpatriotic and don't support the troops. Really tiresome and trite.

  4. Thanks to all who expressed support for the what we are trying to do on the California Stem Cell Report. We hope that it adds somewhat to the understanding of an important state endeavor, particularly in the absence of any significant, regular media coverage.