Private Donations Boost Stem Cell Agency
Private donations made to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine total more than $100 million and have helped "prop up" the agency while it waits for legal issues to be resolved, the Wall Street Journal reports (Hamilton, Wall Street Journal, 8/16).
California voters approved Proposition 71 in 2004 to provide $3 billion over 10 years to fund stem cell research. However, legal challenges to the law have prevented the funds from being released (California Healthline, 8/3).
According to the Journal, without "private contributions, the state might have been forced to sharply curtail operations." For example, donations helped CIRM hire 19 staff members, move into a new headquarters building and issue several training grants.
Donors include Ray Dolby, founder and chair of Dolby Laboratories, who contributed $21 million to stem cell research in the past two years, and Los Angeles real estate developer Eli Broad, who has donated at least $27 million to stem cell research projects. The donations "underscore the strong support for the controversial research in some corners of the philanthropic world," the Journal reports.
Some critics say the state agency should not accept private donations because of the risk that such contributions will influence the direction of stem cell research and could bias funding decisions.
Robert Klein -- chair of the Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee, which administers CIRM -- said private donations have helped keep the agency's overhead costs low so that state funds can go directly to research once they are available. Klein said the agency has raised nearly $30 million more in bond anticipation notes.
Meanwhile, private donations "have sparked a flurry of research facility construction and hiring of new stem cell scientists" at the University of Southern California, the University of California-San Francisco and other institutions, the Journal reports (Wall Street Journal, 8/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.