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Prop. 14 News Coverage: The ‘Nuanced Track Record’ of the
California Stem Cell Agency

California’s $3 billion stem cell agency, which is facing a
life-and-death test on this fall’s ballot, was described this week
as chalking up a “nuanced track record” in an article carried by
the online news service CalMatters.

The article recounted the history of the agency since 2004, when
it was created by a ballot initiative, Proposition 71.
Today, the agency is running out of money and hopes voters will
approve Proposition
14
, a $5.5 billion ballot measure that also
makes extensive changes in the scope of the agency.
 Without
substantial funding, it will begin closing its doors this
winter. 

The piece by Barbara Feder Ostrov said,

“This time, embryonic stem cell research is in a much different
place, with federal funding no longer blocked and more funding from
the biotech industry.

“Voters will want to consider what California’s previous
investment in stem cell research has accomplished. It’s a nuanced
track record.

“While many scientific experts agree that Prop. 71 (of 2004) was
a ‘bold social innovation’ that successfully bolstered emerging
stem cell research, some critics argue that the institute’s
grantmaking was plagued by conflicts of interest and did not live
up to the promises of miracle cures that Prop. 71’s supporters
made years ago. Although the agency is funded with state money,
it’s overseen by its own board and not by the California governor
or lawmakers.”

The “social innovation” comment was contained in a 2012
blue-ribbon study of the agency, commissioned by the agency itself
for $700,000. The study also said that the agency has substantial
built-in conflicts of interest on the governing board of the
California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), as
the agency is officially known. 

The California Stem Cell Report last month performed an
analysis of CIRM awards
that showed that 79 percent of the $2.7 billion in grants has gone
to institutions that are linked to members of its governing
board. 

Ostrov’s article additionally said, 

“A June 2020 analysis by
University of Southern California health policy researchers
estimated that taxpayers’ initial $3 billion investment in the
research institute helped create more than 50,000 jobs and
generated $10 billion for the state’s economy.”


The stem cell agency commissioned the report at a cost of
$206,000
.

Ostrov noted substantial opposition in editorials in California
newspapers. 

“The editorial boards of some of California’s biggest
newspapers…have opposed the measure, including the Los
Angeles Times
, the Orange
County Register
, the San
Francisco Chronicle
 and the San
Jose Mercury News/East Bay Times
. The Fresno
Bee
Modesto Bee,
and San Luis
Obispo Tribune
 newspaper editorial boards support Prop.
14.” 

******

​Read all about California’s stem cell agency, including
Proposition 14,  in David Jensen’s new book. Buy it on
Amazon:  California’s
Great Stem Cell Experiment: Inside a $3 Billion Search for Stem
Cell Cures.
 
Click here for more
information on the author.

California’s $3 billion stem cell agency, which is facing a
life-and-death test on this fall’s ballot, was described this week
as chalking up a “nuanced track record” in an article carried by
the online news service CalMatters.

The article recounted the history of the agency since 2004, when
it was created by a ballot initiative, Proposition 71.
Today, the agency is running out of money and hopes voters will
approve Proposition
14
, a $5.5 billion ballot measure that also
makes extensive changes in the scope of the agency.
 Without
substantial funding, it will begin closing its doors this
winter. 

The piece by Barbara Feder Ostrov said,

“This time, embryonic stem cell research is in a much different
place, with federal funding no longer blocked and more funding from
the biotech industry.

“Voters will want to consider what California’s previous
investment in stem cell research has accomplished. It’s a nuanced
track record.

“While many scientific experts agree that Prop. 71 (of 2004) was
a ‘bold social innovation’ that successfully bolstered emerging
stem cell research, some critics argue that the institute’s
grantmaking was plagued by conflicts of interest and did not live
up to the promises of miracle cures that Prop. 71’s supporters
made years ago. Although the agency is funded with state money,
it’s overseen by its own board and not by the California governor
or lawmakers.”

The “social innovation” comment was contained in a 2012
blue-ribbon study of the agency, commissioned by the agency itself
for $700,000. The study also said that the agency has substantial
built-in conflicts of interest on the governing board of the
California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), as
the agency is officially known. 

The California Stem Cell Report last month performed an
analysis of CIRM awards
that showed that 79 percent of the $2.7 billion in grants has gone
to institutions that are linked to members of its governing
board. 

Ostrov’s article additionally said, 

“A June 2020 analysis by
University of Southern California health policy researchers
estimated that taxpayers’ initial $3 billion investment in the
research institute helped create more than 50,000 jobs and
generated $10 billion for the state’s economy.”


The stem cell agency commissioned the report at a cost of
$206,000
.

Ostrov noted substantial opposition in editorials in California
newspapers. 

“The editorial boards of some of California’s biggest
newspapers…have opposed the measure, including the Los
Angeles Times
, the Orange
County Register
, the San
Francisco Chronicle
 and the San
Jose Mercury News/East Bay Times
. The Fresno
Bee
Modesto Bee,
and San Luis
Obispo Tribune
 newspaper editorial boards support Prop.
14.” 

******

​Read all about California’s stem cell agency, including
Proposition 14,  in David Jensen’s new book. Buy it on
Amazon:  California’s
Great Stem Cell Experiment: Inside a $3 Billion Search for Stem
Cell Cures.
 
Click here for more
information on the author.

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