By Don C. Reed

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) is the embodiment of a great dream: that cures may come.

Built from a citizens’ initiative, Proposition 71, CIRM expresses the will of California: that regenerative medicine should fight chronic disease and disability.

One joyous victory was over Severe Combined Immune Deficiency, (SCID) as in the John Travolta movie, BOY IN THE PLASTIC BUBBLE. Tragically, the real-life boy behind the movie died. But thanks to CIRM-funded therapy, 50 children have now survived the disease. And the same therapy that helped “kids with SCID”, may one day defeat the agonizing blood disease, sickle cell anemia.

But we want more.

We want the blind to look at birds and see the fletching on each feather; and for those with hearing deficiencies to catch every word in the conversation; to rebuild the missing cartilage in arthritic joints; to repair a damaged heart, like patching a bicycle tire. CIRM-enhanced therapy may let cancer may be “eaten” by the body’s own defense system. Mental illnesses, like Huntington’s and schizophrenia are being challenged, to end that devastation of our families. And paralysis, which my brave son Roman has suffered 30 years? Thanks to stem cells, young men and women have regained upper body strength and control, enhancing their careers.

Therapies developed by CIRM will continue to benefit patients in this lifetime, and for generations to come. What a tremendous blessing, 20 years of effort!

Remember Bob Klein, the man who began it. CIRM is his legacy: a living legacy, still developing new therapies and cures, belonging now in the consciousness of every patient advocate; we honor CIRM’s embattled past, gathering hundreds of thousands of signatures to get on the ballot; earning the votes to pass and renew funding; following. almost with in-held breath, the clinical trials going on right now, taking inspiration from a glorious tomorrow, which our scientists will build.

Congratulations to all who work with and for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Millions do not know your name. But we do. On behalf of every patient advocate and family: thank you, CIRM. Our hearts are with you.

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