Concerns About California Embryonic Stem Cell Research Vote Come to Pass
by Jennifer Lahl
October 9, 2008
LifeNews.com Note: Jennifer Lahl is the founder and national director of the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. She has a BSN and worked for 15 years in pediatric nursing, specifically pediatric critical care, pediatric trauma, and transport nursing.
When I read Jeff Sheehy’s quote in the May 2008 Nature article on The $3-Billion- Dollar Question, I knew we were doomed. Sheehy, responding to the megabillion give-away of Prop. 71 funds by the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), asked a simple question: We’re going to make a lot of rich people richer. Why don’t we cure somebody?
Good point from Mr. Sheehy, a CIRM insider who serves on the Independent Citizen’s Oversight Committee.
Really though, I knew we were duped back in November, 2004, when Californians were sold a bunch of hype under the banner of the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act.
It wasn’t long after Prop. 71 passed that the Cures for California’ mantra quieted and risk management and damage control began with more optimistic and realistic goals being pushed onto unsuspecting voters.
We were now being told cures would be hard to come by. Cures could be decades away.
H. Rex Greene, out-spoken critic of Prop. 71 and then medical director of the cancer center at Mills-Peninsula Health Services in San Mateo, said, "If this ever leads to cures, it will be decades away — if ever."
We soon learned that our monies would be invested in basic research which, it is hoped, may one day lead to cures. New drug therapy development costs would shift and now be funded by taxpayer dollars that would absorb any risks of failed therapies. But hey, what’s a cool $3 billion between friends?
But long forgotten or just plain ignored since that November day is the reality of what the good taxpayers of California voted for.
We were voting for Cures for California, cures which today are glaringly absent from sight or rarely mentioned. California’s voters weren’t voting for basic research or for new drug research and development. And Lord knows, we weren’t voting for BUILDINGS!
From the CBC summary report on CIRM funding allocation generated this summer by our Blackstone Intern, George Davis :
RFA 07-03, also called the Major Facilities Grants, was created by CIRM in order to fund new facilities that are free of any federal funding so as to allow research and development of therapies based on hESCs and other stem cell approaches to proceed in California without restrictions imposed by the federal government. These new facilities will help accommodate researchers receiving individual CIRM grants. This program was open to any non-profit research institution in the state. An institution could apply for a grant in one of the following three categories:
CIRM Institutes : funding for capital project proposals that support the most comprehensive stem cell research programs that include three elements: 1) basic and discovery research; 2) preclinical research; and 3) preclinical development and clinical research. Grants in this category ranged in amount from $25 million to $50 million.
* CIRM Centers of Excellence : funding for capital project proposals that support broad stem cell research programs that include any two of the three above described research elements. Individual grants of this type will range in amount between $10 million and $25 million.
* CIRM Special Programs : funding for capital project proposals that support specialized stem cell research programs that include any one of the three research elements discussed above. Individual grants of this type will range in amount between $5 million and $10 million.
All told, CIRM to date, has distributed over $262 million in facilities grants to 12 institutions.
There will be cures? No, I think rich people will get richer. And there will be buildings.
Related Proposition 71 news: Wesley J. Smith recent piece in the San Francisco Chronicle on Governor Schwarzenegger’s defeat of S.B. 1565 Governor vetoes bill guaranteeing access to stem-cell therapies for poor
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