Monday, October 07, 2013

Brown Veto of Spinal Research Funds Triggers Ire

California Gov. Jerry Brown's veto of legislation backed by some stem cell patient advocates has triggered a sharp and negative reaction. One person said he was “disgusted” by the veto. Another person called the governor a “stingy rat.”

It was Roman Reed, a California patient advocate, who said he was disgusted and now planned to run for the state legislature to help find cures for paralyzed persons. Reed said in an interview with the blog
“Curing the paralyzed and finding medical cures is the most important task of our lives for the health of our loved ones and the economy.  Some fights we just have to win and together we can.”
The legislation in question is AB714 by Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont. It would have provided $1 million to UC Irvine's Reeve-Irvine Research Center, which has received $15.1 million from similar state appropriations over past years. The money has gone for research into spinal cord injuries and paralysis and has involved human embryonic stem cells. However, funding of the act has expired.

Brown said in his veto message that the measure “strives to do only good.” But the governor said that he has proposed $511 million in additional support for the University of California over the next four years. He indicated that it is now up to the UC system to decide whether it wants to use some of that additional cash for the spinal cord research.

UC Davis researcher Paul Knoepfler wrote about the veto on his blog and carried Reed's remarks. One of the persons commenting on the item identified himself as Brian Sanderson and said,
“I recall reading that Christopher Reeve(the actor who played Superman) said 'I wish I was a rat' when he heard of the progress that had been made repairing spinal cords of rats. Personally, I think that the Governor is behaving like a stingy rat.”
Reed was named as the Knoepfler Lab Stem Cell Person of 2012 for his lobbying efforts here and in Alabama as well as for his mentoring of other advocates. Reed is the son of another stem cell activist, Don Reed, who wrote about the veto on his blog, Stem Cell Battles. The legislation involved in the governor's veto is named after the younger Reed, who was paralyzed as the result of a football accident some years ago.

The legislation indirectly involves directors of the California stem cell agency. The head of the UCI Reeve Center, Oswald Steward, sits on the agency's governing board, along with Sue Bryant, interim provost of UCI, and Sherry Lansing, a former chair of the UC Board of Regents. Roman Reed also came up with the motto of the stem cell agency: “Turning stem cells into cures.”

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