Sunday, October 25, 2020

Proposition 14: The Scientist Magazine Digs into California's Stem Cell Agency and the Ballot Measure

The Scientist magazine yesterday published a more detailed look at the state of California's stem cell agency and a $5.5 billion ballot measure that would send it into arenas that it has previously not explored. 

The article by Katarina Zimmer said the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has "helped transform its state into an innovation hub of stem cell science."  The article was more complete and detailed than many of the news pieces prepared by California media.

Quoted by Zimmer were stem cell scientists Jeanne Loring, co-founder of Aspen Neurosciences, Inc. of La Jolla; Larry Goldstein of UC San Diego, and Jeff Sheehy, who has served on the CIRM board since its inception in 2004. 

Zimmer also cited the 2012 Institute of Medicine (IOM) study that was commissioned by CIRM at a cost of $700,000. Directors of the agency expected a "gold standard" endorsement of the agency, but the IOM cited significant problems with conflicts of interest on the board. The study also recommended major restructuring of the board and the agency. 

An analysis last month by the California Stem Cell Report showed that 79 percent of CIRM awards -- $2.1 billion -- has gone to institutions that have links to past or present board members. 

Robert Klein, the sponsor of the $5.5 billion Proposition 14, did not include any of the more significant recommendations from the IOM in his 17,000-word, proposed revision of CIRM's legal charter. Klein was a strong advocate for commissioning the study by the prestigious IOM.  Klein was not quoted by The Scientist. 

Zimmer's piece covered many of the arguments pro and con on Proposition 14 that are familiar to readers of this web site. However, her piece is not likely to find significant numbers of readers among California's 20 million voters. Only a tiny fraction of them read The Scientist magazine. 

However, The Scientist does reach a significant number of persons globally that are interested in such things as stem cell research.

For more on the IOM report and CIRM's actions on its recommendations, see the new book, "California's Great Stem Cell Experiment: An Inside Look at a $3 Billion Search for Stem Cell Cures."

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