Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Sacramento Biotech Interests Eyeing Proposed $5.5 Billion California Stem Cell Measure

The proposed $5.5 billion California stem cell initiative attracted some media attention this week in Sacramento in an article that said the area's biotech researchers and companies "are keeping a close eye on where those dollars go."

The piece by Felicia Alvarez in the Sacramento Business Journal outlined the impact of the state stem cell agency in the area and addressed the future should the measure win approval in November 2020. UC Davis has used $143 million from the agency to build its stem cell program. 

The article said more funding would dovetail nicely with plans for a development called Aggie Square by UC Davis at its Sacramento complex, which currently houses its stem cell program.  David Lubarsky, UC Davis Health CEO, said, 
“We believe many companies and life science manufacturers will gravitate to Sacramento and Aggie Square to align themselves with this technology."
Alavarez also wrote, 
"Aggie Square could eventually be expanded into a nationwide manufacturing site for stem cell-based medicines, and an eventual distribution hub, Lubarsky said."
However, Cate Dyer, CEO of StemExpress, expressed a desire for changes in the proposal. Dyer sits on the board of the UC Davis Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneuership. She said, 
“I would like to see some changes made to this bill in what Californians intended it to be — directly benefiting health care in California and returning the royalties and fees back to the state.”
Dyer also said some stem cell-related start up efforts out of UC Davis have struggled. Dyer said, 
“Students contact me all the time that are tied up in these agreements with the university that they can’t get out of. They can't get their business external enough that investors would want to come in.”
The Sacramento Business Journal article is a rare news story dealing with the proposed initiative, which would make sweeping changes in the state stem cell agency, formally known as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine

Not all of those changes are beloved  by all members of its 29-member governing board, which has scheduled a meeting Friday morning to consider the proposal. (See here for a 3,300-word critique by one board member here. See here for an article on last week's sometimes testy discussion of the measure.)

Directors could, at Friday's meeting, make recommendations for alterations. The deadline for actually changing the terms of the measure is Monday at 5 p.m. The only person who can make changes in the proposal is Robert Klein, the sponsor of the measure and the first chairman of the stem cell agency. Directors of the agency have the choice of writing their own initiative as an alternative to Klein's or taking other alternative steps.

The meeting is open to members of the public, who can comment as well, at a number of locations throughout the state.  It is also scheduled to be available online.  Sphere: Related Content

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