Stem Cell Institute Offered $5M Donation
Ray Dolby, founder of Dolby Laboratories, and his wife, Dagmar, have offered to donate $5 million to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee Chair Robert Klein said on Sunday, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Hall, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/6).
ICOC on Monday planned to discuss whether to accept the offer (Mecoy, Sacramento Bee, 6/6).
Two lawsuits and a proposed constitutional amendment (SCA 13) to alter Proposition 71 have "blocked" officials from issuing the first taxpayer-backed bonds to finance research, the Chronicle reports. Without the funds offered by Dolby, CIRM would run out of money in November. CIRM is currently funding operations with a $3 million state loan.
In a phone interview, Klein said the money would be used to hire legal, scientific and intellectual-property staff needed to begin issuing the first grants. The first set of grants is a three-year, $45 million training initiative that has attracted 27 proposals from state institutions.
Klein said the Dolby contribution is "really important because it will allow us to staff up for our first grant review. ... So this is a stepping stone that's very important." Klein said CIRM will continue to pursue a $100 million short-term bridge financing plan (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/6).
ICOC on Monday is scheduled to hold a meeting in Sacramento, the first time it has gathered in the capital city. ICOC moved the meeting from Irvine to Sacramento "so it could lobby lawmakers to defeat" SCA 13, by Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento), which would tighten conflict-of-interest and open meeting rules for CIRM, the Bee reports.
ICOC also planned to discuss the pending lawsuits and a "controversial" financing plan by Klein to sell as much as $200 million in bond anticipation notes to health-related charitable organizations. The notes would be repaid only if CIRM can sell its bonds (Sacramento Bee, 6/6).
CIRM officials say the amendment by Ortiz, who was once the "champion" of stem cell advocates, "threatens to cripple [CIRM] even before it awards its first grant," the AP/Modesto Bee reports.
Support for Ortiz's bill in the Legislature is "not clear," the AP/Bee reports. Patient advocacy groups have lobbied against the bill, and formal concern has been expressed by the University of California, Stanford University, the California Institute of Technology and the University of Southern California.
The bill must win support by at least 27 of 40 senators in order to move to the Assembly. The Assembly then would have until June 30 to act on the measure, which then could be placed on the next statewide ballot (Elias, AP/Modesto Bee, 6/6).