Monday, August 20, 2018

CEO Millan Makes the Case for California's $3 Billion Stem Cell Research Program

Maria Millan, CEO of CIRM, at state Assembly hearing last week

The top executive at California $3 billion stem cell agency, which expects to run out of cash for new awards next year, outlined for state lawmakers last week the benefits of the nearly 14-year-old program.

Maria Millan, president and chief executive officer of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), as the agency is officially known, laid out how the agency funds "the most innovative, high risk but high reward" stem cell research in the state.

Millan highlighted some of the 49 clinical trials backed by CIRM. She said,
"Every single trial represents a tremendous breakthrough approach that was unimaginable and even the subject of science fiction just years ago."
She also discussed the agency's relationship with the stem cell industry in backing research during a risky financial stage called "the valley of death." She said,
"CIRM supports and de-risks through this stage, where industry and traditional investors are not yet ready to come in. By accelerating development and allowing these early stage trials to proceed with CIRM funding, we have enabled the projects to gain visibility and interest leading to an increase in industry investments."
Her presentation was generally well received by the five lawmakers who were in attendance at various times during the meeting of the Assembly Select Committee on Biotechnology, chaired by Kevin Mullin, D-San Mateo.

The full hearing can be seen here and downloaded with closed captioning. An audio file is also available at the same URL. Tomorrow the California Stem Cell Report will carry the text of remarks by Art Torres, vice chairman of the agency and a former state legislator.  This writer was also invited to appear at the session. My remarks can be found here.

Here is the full text of Millan's comments.
Remarks by Maria Millan, President of CIRM, To California Assembly's Select Committee on Biotechnology 2018... by DavidJensen on Scribd

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