Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Wrapping up the Private Giving to CIRM

One of the things that the Wall Street Journal is very good at is following the money. Reporter David Hamilton did just that this morning in a page one piece involving the California stem cell agency.

The article wrapped up the private giving and help that has come CIRM's way. It also quoted the critics on the propriety of CIRM's ties to private benefactors.

However, Hamilton did not cite an earlier WSJ piece about how even small financial favors can create a feeling of indebtedness that is not fully comprehended by the recipients of the largesse.

Most of the details of Hamilton's piece are familiar to our readers. But we should note that because of the prestige and wide national readership of the WSJ, his article is likely to have more impact than if it had appeared in a smaller, regional paper. Play prominence -- meaning the front page display -- also counts.

Hamilton's piece additionally looked at the impact of private funding outside of CIRM. He wrote:
"USC has a new building that could become the state's largest stem-cell research center on the drawing board. It also recently hired Martin Pera, a prominent researcher from Australia, to run its new stem-cell research program. That step is notable in part because the federal restrictions sparked fears that U.S. scientists would leave the country to pursue their work.

"UCSF is using private money to renovate an entire floor of a building so that its stem-cell researchers will be able to work in a central location. One team deriving new stem-cell lines currently works in a laboratory at Menlo Park, Calif.-based biotechnology company Geron Corp., while another labors at an off-site leased facility in San Francisco.

"The university also is proposing an entirely new research building at the cost of as much as $100 million. Much of that must be raised privately, although Arnold Kriegstein, director of the university's stem-cell program, hopes CIRM might also be able to kick in some funding. 'Fund-raising is one of the bottlenecks to getting moving as quickly as possible,' says Dr. Kriegstein."
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