Tuesday, September 04, 2007

ISSCR Backs Controversial California Effort

The prestigious International Society for Stem Cell Research has stepped into the flap over a land development proposal in Northern California, endorsing the concept of a stem cell research facility linked to the plan.

California stem cell Chairman Robert Klein, who backs the proposal, said in an interview that it was the first time the society has taken such an action. The group represents 2,500 scientists and others in 47 countries.

In a July letter to Yolo County officials, George Daley, president of the ISSCR, said,

"There is a severe shortage of funds for bridging the gap between academic discovery research and industry-sponsored clinical development. This gap of funding is a harsh place where small firms struggling to bring regenerative medicine to patients receive very little support from government and/or private investors. The need for philanthropic support of medical research has never been more urgently needed than today. The substantial gift offered by the Tsakopoulos Family would create a Translational Medicine Development Fund to bridge the gap between basic research and tangible potential therapies and/or cures for seventy or more chronic diseases and injuries within the field of regenerative medicine.

"We also endorse this unique concept because it will bring international institutions together and create a critical mass of scientific research that will allow collaboration and progress in a way that has never been seen before. This exciting proposal would create a world class model for scientific research and collaboration that is the first of its kind.

"We strongly encourage you to study this concept as a part of a general plan to bring economic development to your county."

Klein and Angelo Tsakopolous, a Sacramento area land developer, are lobbying for a proposed 2,800-acre land deal near the capital that would also create a stem cell research center with a projected endowment of $200 million. Earlier this spring, Klein's private lobbying organization received a $125,000 contribution from Tsakopolous' company. Klein would head the research center.

Yolo County's elected supervisors shelved the plan at least temporarily in July.

Daley serves as an ad hoc membe of the California stem cell agency's grants review group and served on the advisory panel for its strategic plan. In June Klein was named to the ISSCR's advisory group.

The text of the ISSCR letter, which was provided to the California Stem Cell Report by Klein, follows in the item below.

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