Third Member Appointed to Oversight Committee for Proposition 71
Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (D) on Monday at a press conference appointed Robert Birgeneau, chancellor of the University of California-Berkeley, as the third member of the Independent Citizen's Oversight Committee, which will oversee the Institute for Regenerative Medicine created by Proposition 71, the Contra Costa Times reports (Mason, Contra Costa Times, 11/16).
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, 11/15).
Birgeneau, a physicist who became chancellor at Berkeley in September, has worked as a professor or administrator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale University, Oxford University, Bell Laboratories and the University of Toronto.
"I will help ensure the money is well and ethically spent for the people of California, the nation, and indeed, the world," Birgeneau said (Yang, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/16).
Bustamante last week appointed Richard Murphy, CEO of the Salk Institute in San Diego, to the panel, which will have 29 members. Earlier this month, Controller Steve Westly (D) named Philip Pizzo, dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine, to the committee (Contra Costa Times, 11/16).
The remainder of appointments to the panel, which must be finalized by Dec. 12, will be made by state officials and chancellors of the five University of California campuses with medical schools (San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/16).
At the same press conference, Randy Schekman, a professor of cell and developmental biology at Berkeley, announced an initiative by 15 researchers to create a center for stem cell science at the university to compete for Proposition 71 grants, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
According to the Chronicle, the "activity at Berkeley underscores how interest in stem cells is pushing well past traditional centers of medical research to include engineers, physicists and all sorts of basic researchers."
About six scientists at the University of California-Santa Barbara -- which, similar to UC-Berkeley, does not have a medical school -- also have considered organizing a stem cell research program.
Dennis Clegg -- chair of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at UC-Santa Barbara -- said, "There is a fair amount of interest in that here," adding, "We are very interested in expanding in this particular area" (Hall, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/16).