ICOC Chair To Address International Meeting in San Francisco
Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee Chair Robert Klein on Thursday will deliver the keynote address for the International Society for Stem Cell Research's annual meeting in San Francisco, the San Francisco Examiner reports.
Despite excitement over the new California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the growth of stem cell research developments in nations such as South Korea and the United Kingdom, ISSCR Executive Director Nancy Witty said that the meeting will focus on science instead of politics (Lagos, San Francisco Examiner, 6/22). However, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that "public financing of stem cell programs will ... be a hot topic."
Peter Andrews, a stem cell scientist from the United Kingdom who is attending the convention, said, "There's quite a lot of curiosity to know what will happen in California," adding, "It's a large amount of money and could drive a lot of science, hopefully good science" (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/23).
Stem cell researchers "are rowing hard against strong currents of financial, political and technical turmoil" as they head to the ISSCR meeting, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports. In addition to opposition from President Bush and other social conservatives, "a growing number of liberal groups," including some women's rights groups and biotechnology opponents, are voicing opposition to stem cell research, according to the AP/Mercury News (Elias, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 6/23).
Klein faces an "ongoing revolt" among ICOC members that could help give CIRM a "better chance" to "gain some credibility on the cutting edge of science," Stuart Leavenworth, a Sacramento Bee associate editor, writes in a Bee opinion piece.
Leavenworth writes that he was the only news reporter at a meeting of the ICOC legislative subcommittee on Monday, where "the subcommittee deadlocked 5-5 on a motion that would effectively demote Klein as the institute's political leader." ICOC Vice Chair Edward Penhoet "stepped in to give Klein a one-vote margin," a "somewhat surprising" development because "the institute, in its prior press release, didn't even list him" as a subcommittee member, Leavenworth writes.
Subcommittee members Jeff Sheehy, an AIDS activist; Claire Pomeroy, dean of the University of California-Davis School of Medicine; Francisco Prieto, a Sacramento physician; Janet Wright, a Chico physician; and Joan Samuelson, an advocate for people with Parkinson's, all voted against Klein, according to Leavenworth.
Klein's position with CIRM "rests in a very murky petri dish," Leavenworth writes, adding that ICOC "must decide whether Klein's assets as a ballot campaigner ... outweigh his shortcomings as a Type A personality." Leavenworth concludes, "It's the question that often confronts many a start-up company: At what point does the board find a real CEO and nudge the founding genius out the door?" (Leavenworth, Sacramento Bee, 6/23).