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Proposition 14: The Latest News and Opinion, STAT to Capitol
Weekly

The national biomedical news service STAT today took a look
at California’s $5.5 billion stem cell measure, declaring it was
backed by a “well-financed campaign that’s making heady promises
about curing diabetes, paralysis, cancer, and Parkinson’s and
Alzheimer’s diseases.”


The headline on the story by Usha Lee McFarling

said,

“With wildfires burning and Covid-19 spreading, can
California afford stem cell research? Voters are set to
decide”

McFarling’s story was one of the more detailed so far that have
appeared either nationally or within California.

She had this observation from a Los Angeles specialist on ballot
initiatives, which is the direct democracy tool that Robert
Klein
, a Palo Alto real estate developer, used to place
Proposition 14 on the ballot.

John Matsusaka, an economist who heads the
Initiative and Referendum Institute at the University of
Southern California
. He said federal funding restrictions that
fueled support of Proposition 71 are no longer a major
concern, proponents have not done a great job demonstrating that
voters got their money’s worth from the first $3 billion, and the
measure is coming to voters during tough fiscal
times.”

In 2004, Proposition 71, also created by Klein, established
the state stem cell agency, known officially as the California
Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM),
and provided it
with $3 billion. The money is nearly gone.  CIRM is set to begin
closing its doors this winter unless Proposition 14 is
approved. 

Mentioned or quoted in the STAT story were Alan Trounson,
former CEO of CIRM, researchers Larry Goldstein of UC San
Diego
, Irv Weissman of Stanford, Jeanne
Loring
of Aspen Neurosciences, Inc., Andy
McMahon
 of USC, and Jan Nolta of UC Davis.
Others included CIRM governing board members Joe Panetta and
Jeff Sheehy, and Melissa King, executive director of
Americans for Cures and the head of field operations for the
campaign group “Yes on 14.” 
The STAT piece dealt with the range of pro and con arguments,

including conflicts of interest. 

“‘The people who decide who is going to get funded are
the people who get funded. That’s a built-in conflict of interest
they made no attempt to fix,’ said John Simpson, who
monitored CIRM for many years as stem cell project director for the
group Consumer Watchdog. ‘They need to go back to the
drawing board and fix these structural flaws.'”

“Some of the conflicts have been so flagrant as to be almost
comical. For example, former CIRM President Alan Trounson once
asked prominent biochemist Leroy Hood to be a reviewer of a
grant by Irv Weissman, the director of Stanford’s Institute
for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine
, after
the three men spent time fly fishing together
on a Montana
ranch jointly owned by Weissman and Hood.”


Also appearing yesterday was an opinion piece
on the Capitol
Weekly
online news service by Pete Shanks, who has
written about CIRM for years on the blog, Biopolitical
Times
.
 

He cited the much-discussed issues surrounding the stem cell agency
and wrote 

“Proposition 14 could have addressed these defects.
Instead, it made them worse: It enlarges the board to 35 members,
still mostly drawn from representatives of the universities,
companies, and research institutes that receive its
grants.”

Shanks also said, 

“The 2004 proposition campaign has been widely
criticized for hype: over-promising the imminence and certainty of
breakthroughs. The advocates called their operation ‘Cures for
California,’ but these have been in short supply. They also said
that stem cell research would enormously reduce California’s
medical costs, but there’s no sign of that.

“The campaign for Proposition. 14 follows the same pattern. It
claims that the new multibillion-dollar investment has ‘massive
savings potential’ and a ‘low impact’ on the budget. Skepticism is
definitely in order.”

*****

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

The national biomedical news service STAT today took a look
at California’s $5.5 billion stem cell measure, declaring it was
backed by a “well-financed campaign that’s making heady promises
about curing diabetes, paralysis, cancer, and Parkinson’s and
Alzheimer’s diseases.”


The headline on the story by Usha Lee McFarling

said,

“With wildfires burning and Covid-19 spreading, can
California afford stem cell research? Voters are set to
decide”

McFarling’s story was one of the more detailed so far that have
appeared either nationally or within California.

She had this observation from a Los Angeles specialist on ballot
initiatives, which is the direct democracy tool that Robert
Klein
, a Palo Alto real estate developer, used to place
Proposition 14 on the ballot.

John Matsusaka, an economist who heads the
Initiative and Referendum Institute at the University of
Southern California
. He said federal funding restrictions that
fueled support of Proposition 71 are no longer a major
concern, proponents have not done a great job demonstrating that
voters got their money’s worth from the first $3 billion, and the
measure is coming to voters during tough fiscal
times.”

In 2004, Proposition 71, also created by Klein, established
the state stem cell agency, known officially as the California
Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM),
and provided it
with $3 billion. The money is nearly gone.  CIRM is set to begin
closing its doors this winter unless Proposition 14 is
approved. 

Mentioned or quoted in the STAT story were Alan Trounson,
former CEO of CIRM, researchers Larry Goldstein of UC San
Diego
, Irv Weissman of Stanford, Jeanne
Loring
of Aspen Neurosciences, Inc., Andy
McMahon
 of USC, and Jan Nolta of UC Davis.
Others included CIRM governing board members Joe Panetta and
Jeff Sheehy, and Melissa King, executive director of
Americans for Cures and the head of field operations for the
campaign group “Yes on 14.” 
The STAT piece dealt with the range of pro and con arguments,

including conflicts of interest. 

“‘The people who decide who is going to get funded are
the people who get funded. That’s a built-in conflict of interest
they made no attempt to fix,’ said John Simpson, who
monitored CIRM for many years as stem cell project director for the
group Consumer Watchdog. ‘They need to go back to the
drawing board and fix these structural flaws.'”

“Some of the conflicts have been so flagrant as to be almost
comical. For example, former CIRM President Alan Trounson once
asked prominent biochemist Leroy Hood to be a reviewer of a
grant by Irv Weissman, the director of Stanford’s Institute
for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine
, after
the three men spent time fly fishing together
on a Montana
ranch jointly owned by Weissman and Hood.”


Also appearing yesterday was an opinion piece
on the Capitol
Weekly
online news service by Pete Shanks, who has
written about CIRM for years on the blog, Biopolitical
Times
.
 

He cited the much-discussed issues surrounding the stem cell agency
and wrote 

“Proposition 14 could have addressed these defects.
Instead, it made them worse: It enlarges the board to 35 members,
still mostly drawn from representatives of the universities,
companies, and research institutes that receive its
grants.”

Shanks also said, 

“The 2004 proposition campaign has been widely
criticized for hype: over-promising the imminence and certainty of
breakthroughs. The advocates called their operation ‘Cures for
California,’ but these have been in short supply. They also said
that stem cell research would enormously reduce California’s
medical costs, but there’s no sign of that.

“The campaign for Proposition. 14 follows the same pattern. It
claims that the new multibillion-dollar investment has ‘massive
savings potential’ and a ‘low impact’ on the budget. Skepticism is
definitely in order.”

*****

​Read all about California’s stem cell agency, including
Proposition 14,  in David Jensen’s new book. Download it from
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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