Administrators From University of California Medical Schools Appointed to Proposition 71 Oversight Panel
University of California President Robert Dynes on Wednesday announced the appointment of administrators from the five UC medical schools to the Independent Citizen's Oversight Committee, which will oversee the Institute for Regenerative Medicine created by Proposition 71, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Hall, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/18).
Proposition 71, a measure approved on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot, calls for California to issue bonds to raise an average of $295 million annually over a decade to promote stem cell research and provide funds for a new stem cell research center, as well as grants and loans for lab projects. State analysts say the measure will cost a total of $6 billion, including interest (California Healthline, 11/16).
The most recent appointees are:
- Susan Bryant, dean of UC-Irvine School of Biological Sciences (Reza, Los Angeles Times, 11/18);
- Edward Holmes, vice chancellor for health sciences and dean of the UC-San Diego School of Medicine (Knight Ridder/San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/18);
- David Kessler, dean of the UC-San Francisco School of Medicine (San Francisco Chronicle, 11/18);
- Gerald Levey, vice chancellor of medical sciences and dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; and
- Claire Pomeroy, vice chancellor for human health sciences and dean of the UC-Davis School of Medicine (Knight Ridder/San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/18).
In addition, Robert Klein, Proposition 71 campaign chair, is "jockeying" to become chair of the panel and has "built alliances" with three of four statewide elected officials who will nominate the remaining 20 of the 29 committee members, according to the Sacramento Bee.
Critics said the panel to date is "neither independent nor representative of citizens," the Bee reports.
According to the Bee, abortion rights supporters who opposed Proposition 71 likely will send a letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and other state lawmakers urging them to appoint members to the committee who do not "have a conflict of interest."
Rex Greene, a San Mateo oncologist who opposed the measure, said, "I see nobody at the table interested in making it hard to do embryonic research. They are either going to be apologists or self-interested advocates."
In related news, Klein on Wednesday announced the launch of the California Research and Cures Coalition, a privately funded body intended to advise ICOC on the "best practices" for conducting embryonic stem cell research.
Klein said the coalition would develop recommendations for standards and ethical regulations for administering Proposition 71 grants. He added that the coalition would educate the public about research developments, build support for stem cell research and lobby against proposed federal legislation seeking to criminalize therapeutic cloning (Mecoy, Sacramento Bee, 11/18).
UC-Irvine has "accelerated" plans to create an institute specializing in human embryonic stem cell research to improve the university's chances of being awarded funds under Proposition 71, the Orange County Register reports. UCI administrators are considering various options, ranging from renovating existing research facilities to pursuing as much as $40 million in private and public funding to construct a new facility, according to the Register.
In addition, UCI administrators are considering recruiting as many as five new researchers who specialize in stem cell research. About 30 UCI researchers currently perform stem cell research but most work with adult stem cells or embryonic stem cells from mice (Robbins, Orange County Register, 11/18).
California voters' approval of Proposition 71 "was an acute case of electoral folly," Wesley Smith, author of "Consumer's Guide to a Brave New World," writes in a Weekly Standard opinion piece. Citing voters' rejection of Proposition 67 -- which would have imposed a 3% surcharge on telephone bills to fund emergency departments, trauma centers and health clinics -- Smith writes that voters' approval of Proposition 71 was a "remarkable and disconcerting development."
He concludes that California voters who supported Proposition 71 "acted against their own best interests ... mortgaging their fiscal future to subsidize speculative and morally controversial research for medical treatments that may never materialize" (Smith, Weekly Standard, 11/15).