It could have added that it is also a meeting place for Big Pharma, Big Academia and Big Politics.
All of those yeasty ingredients are embodied in the $3 billion California stem cell agency, which is plugging away at developing a therapy promised to voters 11 years ago during a $36 million ballot campaign..
The headline appeared on the KQED Web site, a public television and radio outlet in San Francisco. The city, coincidentally, is where the world's largest aggregation of stem cell researchers, the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), is meeting today. The conference is also just across the San Francisco Bay from Oakland, where the stem cell agency is headquartered.
Danielle Venton wrote the article for KQED. She covered a bit of the history of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine or CIRM, as the agency is formally known. She noted that the agency is now participating in 16 clinical trials, although it has yet to chalk up production of a commercial therapy.
"(T)he frustration many voters feel about CIRM may have more to do with the problematic way researchers, institutional communicators and the media talk about scientific progress in general, and stem cells in particular, than it does with the agency’s performance.
"'There has always been this high-stakes, extreme rhetoric around stem cells,' says Timothy Caulfield, who teaches science and health policy at the University of Alberta. Caulfield says because stem cell research was so embattled, many spoke of its promise in hyperbolic terms.Venton reported that the international scientists' group, the ISSCR, is "trying to tone things down" with new guidelines about how to talk about stem cell research and its impact. She said the effort "may be facing long odds." She quoted Caulfield as saying,
"'People had to make bold statements about the future of stem cells in order to counteract those that wanted to have strict laws to stop it. So you have to say, ‘This is going to save lives. This is going to cure a variety of diseases.’ Right from the beginning, the late ’90s, you have that language appearing in the popular press.”
“It’s really the invisible hand of hype. In most cases these pressures are largely unconscious — whether you’re talking about the media, the researchers, the institutions or the funding agencies.”Sphere: Related Content