Saturday, December 10, 2011

CIRM's Thomas Blogs on Geron and the Stem Cell Business

The chairman of the $3 billion California stem cell agency has made his second entry into the blogosphere, this time adding a bit more on Geron's abandonment of what would have been its historic hESC clinical trial.

Jonathan Thomas, a Los Angeles bond financier, wrote yesterday on the CIRM research blog, which has recently been the site of more spritely and relevant items.

Geron's action has particular relevance for CIRM, which awarded the company a $25 million loan last May to help with the clinical trial.

Thomas said CIRM's "immediate concern" when officials heard the surprise news was for the patients and the families involved in the trials. Thomas continued,
"However, Geron is a business. The company decided that their cancer therapies were farther along than the stem cell trial and when they held the stem cell program against the prism of economic reality they made a business decision to end the trial."
Thomas also minimized the importance of Geron to CIRM. He said,
"CIRM’s award to Geron was just one of the 44 projects in 26 disease areas that are in various stages of working toward clinical trials."
It was a somewhat different story last May when former stem cell agency chairman Robert Klein said in a widely distributed CIRM news release,
"Supporting the Geron trial is a landmark step for CIRM."
Regardless of the spin on Geron from either CIRM or others who are more skeptical, Thomas' entry into the world of electronic media is to be applauded as is what appears to be a new direction in the research blog.

The CIRM blog is now newsier, more lively with more variety and more voices. All of which should redound, albeit modestly, to CIRM efforts to improve its communications with the public and opinion makers. The difficult thing about blogs, however, is the time and effort required to sustain them, and the task could be something of a communications test for CIRM. Blogs constantly need to be fed. Indeed, blogs are voracious, sort of like the carnivorous plant called Seymour in "The Little Shop of Horrors." As many of you may recall, Seymour had a simple but insistent refrain, "Feed me, feed me, feed me."


  1. Thanks for your comments on our blog. Readers can see the entry by Thomas and follow stem cell research updates here:

    Amy Adams
    CIRM Communications Manager (and Blog editor)

  2. Thanks, Amy. And a big whoops from me. I should have had a link to the Thomas piece. It now has been added.


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