Monday, November 18, 2019

Rare Media Coverage of $5.5 Billion California Stem Cell Ballot Measure

The journal Science is carrying an article about the "delicate negotiation" involving the California stem cell agency and the man who is sponsoring a ballot measure that would keep the research effort alive with $5.5 billion in cash. 

The piece by Kelly Servick followed a two-hour meeting last Friday of the governing board of the agency, formally known as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). Klein was in attendance and agreed to additional changes in the measure beyond those he announced to the California Stem Cell Report. 

There was no disagreement between Klein and the agency concerning the amount of money involved, which is much needed by CIRM. It has only $27 million left, compared to the up to $300 million annually that it normally spends on awards. The $27 million is earmarked for sickle cell anemia. 

The piece in Science represented rare national or even California media attention to refinancing the agency, which has pumped $2.7 billion into stem cell research in the Golden State in the last 15 years. Beyond the refinancing, the Klein initiative would make sweeping changes in the agency and governance. It also does not deal in a significant way with some areas that have been the focus of sharp criticism over the years, such as conflicts of interest.

Servick's article captured some of the highlights of last Friday's CIRM board meeting. She also reported, 
"In July, Americans for Cures conducted a poll of about 1150 likely voters and found a 65% approval rating for re-funding CIRM, Klein says."
Servick wrote, 
"Many researchers credit the agency with creating a strong infrastructure for stem cell research in the state and shepherding dozens of experimental treatments into human trials. But no CIRM-funded stem cell therapy has yet won FDA approval, leading critics of the agency to ask whether the initial 2004 initiative, born from opposition to a ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, promised 'cures' it couldn’t deliver." 
Klein has until 5 p.m. today to file his amended initiative with state election officials. If it qualifies for the ballot with more than 600,000 signatures it will be brought to voters next November.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:52 PM

    That's right, very rare media attention to a public give-away agency. Thank goodness for David Jensen's reports!!!


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