71 BENEFITS FROM THE CALIFORNIA STEM CELL PROGRAM
By Don C. Reed
Have you heard about California’s $3 billion stem cell program, technically titled the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM)?
First, as a stem cell research supporter I feel strongly connected to the California stem cell program, and often say “we” and “us” and “ours” when referring to it. But I am neither scientist nor doctor, and have no official connection with the program. I am just the father of a paralyzed young man (Roman Reed)—and someone who knows a good thing when he sees it!
When my son became paralyzed playing college football, September 10th, 1994, there was no California stem cell research program.
It had to be fought for every step of the way. The odds against it (a state-funded stem cell research program for three billion dollars?) were enormous.
But leading the charge was Bob Klein, an expert in raising funds for good causes. He had been the leader in developing the California Housing Finance Authority, which still provides low-cost housing loans to needy families, (none of which ever went to his own company, Klein Financial Enterprises, Inc.) and was one of the two primary negotiators (Larry Soler of JDRF was the other) in raising federal funds ($1.5 billion) for diabetes research.
Backed by dozens of medical and education groups, hundreds of patient advocates gathering petition signatures, and 5.9 million voters who said “YES!” to the research investment opportunity—the California stem cell program passed its first hurdles.
It would be a fight every step of the way.
Though voted into life in 2004, multiple lawsuits blocked us, and it took nearly three years to defeat them all.
But in 2007, when it became clear that our program would prevail no matter what the ideological opponents threw at us, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger approved a loan of $150 million to let CIRM get started.
From that day to this, CIRM has battled chronic disease and disability.
I love the program, and have enjoyed writing two books* (and a couple hundred weblog entries for the Huffington Post, Daily Kos and others) about it.
Which brings us to the crucial question: should the California stem cell program continue?
When the $3 billion dollars runs out, is that the end of CIRM?
To my mind, that would be a colossal loss and an unforgivable blunder.
So, starting tomorrow, I will share seventy-one benefits of the California stem cell program.
Why 71? That is the number which began it all, the citizens’ initiative: Proposition 71: the California Stem Cell Research for Therapies and Cures Act.
It will take about three days to write each weblog, so I will aim for two a week.
Do you want to help? Send an email to me if you have a personal reason to support CIRM, or a question to ask.
Are you a scientist whose work was supported by CIRM? Or a patient advocate, one of those pivotally important women and men upon whose work CIRM began? Is there a particular chronic disease you think CIRM should fight?
If so, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, I am trying to set up my new website (under construction) so that anyone who signs up (free) can receive all 71 entries.
See you soon, I hope!
Next: THE SILENT HURRICANE
*The first book, “STEM CELL BATTLES: Proposition 71 and Beyond”, came out in 2015 from World Scientific Publishing, Inc.
The second book is the soon-to-be-released “CALIFORNIA CURES: How the California Stem Cell Program is Challenging Chronic Disease: How We Are Beginning to Win—and Why We Must Do It Again!”