SEVENTY-ONE BENEFITS OF THE CALIFORNIA STEM CELL PROGRAM
By Don C. Reed
Should the California stem cell program continue?
Or, when the $3 billion dollars of funding runs out, will that be the end of the revolutionary medical research program?
That would be a colossal loss and an unforgivable blunder.
First, please know that I am neither scientist nor doctor, and have no official connection with the program. As a stem cell research advocate I do feel part of the California stem cell program, and often say “we” and “us” and “ours” when referring to it. But 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.
Begun as a citizen initiative in 2003, it had to be fought for every step of the way. The odds against us (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 Agency, which 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 who gathered petition signatures, and 7 million voters who said “YES!” to the research opportunity—the California stem cell program passed its first hurdles.
But it would be a fight every step of the way.
Multiple lawsuits (funded by out-of-state religious and ultra-conservative groups) blocked us, and it took nearly three years to defeat them.
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 (long-lasting or incurable) disease and disability.
Which brings us back to that crucial question: should the California stem cell program continue?
To my mind, the answer is a thundering “YES!”
But that is just my opinion. You want concrete reasons to back that up.
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
*Don C. Reed is the author of “STEM CELL BATTLES: Proposition 71 and Beyond”, World Scientific Publishing, Inc., 2015
His new 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!”