California Stem Cell Research Panel’s Top Scientific Advisor Resigns

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 4, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

California Stem Cell Research Panel’s Top Scientific Advisor Resigns Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 4,

Sacramento, CA ( — The number one scientist at California’s multibillion dollar embryonic stem cell research agency has resigned her post. Arlene Chiu, interim chief scientific officer since April, sent a letter earlier this week to the panel’s board of directors notifying them of her decision to leave.

During her tenure as the head science officer at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Chiu directed the scientific review of applications for funding.

She also helped lead the funding policy which eventually determined that projects involving embryonic stem cell research would be the only ones funded by the panel, which will eventually use billions of dollars in taxpayer funds.

Choi became a part of CIRM in 2005 and rose to the top scientific position when Zach Hall, who also served as president, stepped down.

Wesley J. Smith, an attorney and a leading bioethics watchdog, commented on the resignation and said it should concern state residents.

"The grants taken from the hides of California taxpayers (including me), will continue of course," he said.

"But for some reason, the atmosphere of the CIRM does not seem conducive to keeping its top people. Someday, a book may be written," Smith added.

In May, the California Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit filed by pro-life and taxpayers groups saying that the state’s stem cell research agency is running afoul of oversight and accountability laws.

The decision allowed the agency to move forward with billions in grants for human cloning and embryonic stem cell research.
The state’s high court decided against reviewing a state appeals court ruling from February that upheld the legality of the state’s multibillion dollar embryonic stem cell research program

The appeals court had said the statewide ballot proposal and committee it created were legal despite a lawsuit saying the panel doesn’t abide by all state laws.

The lawsuit had prevented the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine from spending the $3 billion state voters authorized for the controversial research. CIRM couldn’t sell bonds to raise the funds because they would have been worthless had state court’s declared the agency unconstitutional.

Dana Cody, an attorney for the Life Legal Foundation, a pro-life law firm and another plaintiff, told AP she wasn’t surprised by the decision.

"I’m really sad that California taxpayers are going to be funding experimental research when there’s been great strides made in adult stem cell research," she said.

In 2004, California voters signed off on Proposition 71 to borrow $3 billion to finance embryonic stem cell research and human cloning projects.