Monday, February 11, 2008

Bean Town Perspective: California Still Waiting for Stem Cell Results

The Boston Globe looked at California this morning and said the $3 billion stem cell research effort in the Golden State is a "lesson" and a "reality check" for Massachusetts.

Reporter Tod Wallack wrote that three years after the creation of CIRM, "Californians are still waiting for some results."

He continued,
"'It's too early,' said Alan Trounson, president of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the agency charged with administering the stem cell funds. 'There are very few substantial developments [in medical science] that have happened in less than 25 years. There have been some, but they tend to be rare.'"
Wallack also noted the conflict of interest problems at CIRM, although he mistakenly reported:
"The stem cell agency rejected several applications for grants because they contained letters of support from advisory board members."
Those letters were written by members of CIRM's board of directors (medical school deans) who are prohibited by CIRM policy from writing such letters. The board is far from an advisory group. It makes the decisions on who receives grants.

The Boston piece downplayed the impact of CIRM's efforts, perhaps a reflection of a parochial East Coast perspective. Pumping money into stem cell research at the rate of $20,000-plus an hour, however, is no small achievement, even though it does not measure up to the perceptions created by the campaign rhetoric surrounding Prop. 71 more than three years ago.

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