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Archive for September, 2009

Did You Forget Stem Cell Awareness Day?

DID YOU MISS IT?   DID YOU FORGET STEMCELL AWARENESS DAY?

 

Don’t worry, it’s not too late—September 23rd  has not happened yet, you still have a couple days to get ready—to join America, Canada, Germany, Spain, Australia and many more states and nations in  celebrating one of the greatest hopes for happiness in the course of human history.

 

When a hero saves a life—a drowning child, let’s say—the world cheers. 

 

But stem cell research may save the lives of millions.

 

That is worth noticing!

 

Do this, please: send a note to stemcellday@cirm.ca.gov, and tell them how you celebrated Stem Cell Awareness Day. Want some suggestions how to mark it?

 

Maybe, make a phone call to a loved one who is ill; we all owe a phone call or two in that area—that not only warms their hearts, but also keeps fresh in our minds the reason we fight, so every family may have access to the best medical treatment science can develop.

 

Or donate to a favorite patient advocacy group, like the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, or the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, or another group which supports stem cell research? (My friend Karen Miner’s group, Research for Cure, will be having their annual fundraiser on the 26th, btw, if you are in the Sacramento area, drop by—Google Research for Cure for details—this worthy group supports spinal cord injury research for cure at UC Irvine.)

 

Invite some friends over for snacks and make a big sign, SUPPORT STEM CELL RESEARCH, put it someplace prominent to start the conversation.

 

Or maybe just visit the CIRM website—or the brandnew CIRM Flickr newsfeed—or hunt for CIRM on Youtube….

 

But in some way, large or small, consider taking note of stem cell research.

 

Last year was the first celebration—let’s make this one bigger…..

 

Here is some of the latest news on how the world is coming together on this vital issue–  and there are rumors of much more!  (WWW.STEMCELLDAY.COM)

 

Also, you can always visit the CIRM website (www.cirm.ca.gov) to keep in touch—but first, breaking news that still another nation, Germany, will be celebrating stem cell awareness by linking arms with California, working together to find cures.

 

 

“San Francisco, Ca., September 17, 2009—The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the state’s stem cell agency, and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) announced today an agreement to collaborate on stem cell research. 

The agreement was signed today at CIRM headquarters here by BMBF State Secretary Frieder Meyer-Krahmer and Alan Trounson, president of CIRM.

CIRM and the German ministry are laying the foundation for joint research projects to advance stem cell therapies for treatment of some of today’s most debilitating diseases.  Late last year, a group of Californian and German researchers met in San Francisco to discuss various areas of mutual interest. The exchanges at that meeting suggested that collaborative work in a number of areas could be particularly fruitful, including the study of immunology. With today’s agreement, the initial avenue for collaboration is likely to be the CIRM Stem Cell Transplantation and Immunology request for applications, which will be posted in November.

…The agreement will make it easier for researchers in California and Germany to obtain joint funding to broaden the potential pool of expertise that can be applied toward research in a specific area.  It is expected that researchers in both jurisdictions will be invited to form teams that will apply jointly for funding through a process that builds upon routine CIRM and BMBF procedures. For those that are approved, CIRM will fund the California researchers and BMBF will fund the German researchers.

“The survival of many patients with severe diseases has been facilitated by the great progress in medical technology in organ transplantations as well as in specific replacement of cell, tissue and organ functions based on innovations of regenerative medicine. Increasing demand in this area is foreseeable. Intensive work is therefore required on further innovative development in regeneration” said Germany’s State Secretary Meyer-Krahmer.

California was the first state in the nation to support and fund stem cell research, and now we are expanding our commitment to finding therapies for chronic diseases with yet another international partnership,” said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. “There are brilliant minds all over the world, especially here in California, and with collaborations like this we can help ensure that potentially life-saving breakthroughs can come more quickly and more often.”

The long-term objective of the collaborative research is to better understand the mechanisms of regenerative processes in order to develop improved therapies and to clarify the potential risks of using stem cells or their derivatives as therapy. Research in this area is of course only possible within the corresponding national legislation depending on the funding body and location where the research is carried out. In the future, these newly developed therapies will enable a more comprehensive biological replacement of organ function, in particular in areas where transplantation is currently not possible.

CIRM and BMBF are discussing other potential collaborative activities including workshops, symposia, exchange of researchers, and young scientist training opportunities.

Germany’s science and industry sector takes a leading position internationally in regenerative medicine. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the German Science Foundation (DFG) prepared the ground for this by investing 230 million Euros since 1990 in research in this field.

 “Germany is a world leader in biomedical research,” noted Robert Klein, chairman of the CIRM governing board. “Germany will now join five other nations—the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Spain and Japan—as a partner with California in accelerating critical stem cell research to relieve the suffering of patients and families throughout the world.” 

CIRM currently has similar agreements with the Cancer Stem Cell Consortium of Canada, the State of Victoria in Australia, the JST in Japan, the MICINN in Spain and the MRC in the United Kingdom.

 

And—a message on Stem Cell Awareness Day from CIRM President Dr. Alan Trounson:

 

Mon, 09/14/2009

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., September 14, 2009 – On September 23, The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the state stem cell agency (CIRM) will mark Stem Cell Awareness Day in partnership with research institutions, patient groups and educators around the world.

In a statement urging people to mark the day, CIRM president Dr. Alan Trounson declared “Stem cell science is advancing at as fast a pace as it is in large part because of pressure from grass roots campaigns that have created momentum to secure government funds for research and challenged researchers to think differently about the pace of bringing basic discoveries to the clinic. Stem Cell Awareness Day was created as a way to spread information and excitement about this field and to fertilize those grass roots to keep the pressure on everyone to further accelerate the field.”—Dr. Alan Trounson, President, California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).

 To mark Stem Cell Awareness Day in California, CIRM grantees are visiting some 40 high school science classrooms throughout the state as guest lecturers. More than 2,500 high school students are anticipated to participate in presentations by stem cell scientists on September 23. High school life science teachers in California who are interested in having a stem cell researcher visit their classroom as a guest lecturer on September 23, should contact CIRM at stemcellday@cirm.ca.gov.

 CIRM is also sponsoring a Stem Cell Awareness Day poetry contest. Entries are welcome from anywhere in the world. The winner (or winners) will receive a framed stem cell image of their choice from those on the CIRM Flickr photostream. The winning poem(s) will also be posted on the Stem Cell Awareness Day and CIRM Websites and may be printed in the CIRM annual report. Poems of 250 words or less that relate to the subject of stem cell science should be submitted by September 15th to stemcellday@cirm.ca.gov.

 

Stem Cell Awareness Day Activities

In addition to activities being organized by CIRM, numerous activities and events are planned for the day that aim to foster greater understanding about stem cell research and the range of potential applications for disease and injury. Please visit www.stemcellday.com for the most current list of activities. Planned activities include.

The World Stem Cell Summit is taking place in Baltimore September 21-23 and will note Stem Cell Day on the 23rd.

Monash University, Australia, is hosting a Webcast linking international stem cell scientists. Video seminars and live Q&A by leaders in the field addressing a wide range of topics related to stem cell science and clinical advances. For more information, visit: http://www.med.monash.edu.au/miscl/scad09.html

NYSTEM, New York State Stem Cell Science is sponsoring a stem cell image contest and a public screening of “Terra Incognita: Mapping Stem Cell Research. Visit http://stemcell.ny.gov/ for more information.

 
The Canadian Stem Cell Foundation and Canada’s Stem Cell Network is launching The Stem Cell Charter, a major global outreach initiative to build a grassroots following of stem cell science supporters, on Stem Cell Awareness Day. Sign the Charter – Renew the World: The Stem Cell Charter is an interactive, web-based document that affirms the importance of stem cell science to all humanity. It forms the basis of a growing community of scientists, community leaders and the public who believe in the importance of stem cell science, and are lending their voice, time or other resources to champion the stem cell cause. Sign the Charter at stemcellcharter.org Choose and personalize your very own cell, and tell the world why you support this vital area of research. Watch the Rock Star Scientists video as well as mini videos about research that’s going on in the field.

The Parkinson’s Institute, Sunnyvale, CA (www.thepi.org) – is hosting a public talk on Parkinson’s disease. Learn about the latest developments in Stem Cell Research from leading authorities in the field, and how these developments are helping us understand Parkinson’s disease. Contact: mchavez@thepi.org or 408.734.2800

UC Davis, Davis, CA – is hosting Huntington’s Disease and Stem Cell Research Presentations from 5:30 to 6 p.m. at the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures facility tour, presented by: Dr. Jan Nolta and featuring patient advocate testimonies. A tour of the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures will follow, beginning at 6:00 p.m. followed by a hands-on tour of Dr. Nolta’s lab, beginning at 7:15 p.m.; Contact: Charles Casey (916) 734-9048

The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA – is hosting an open house lab tour (reservations are required) of the Stem Cell Shared Laboratory and Training Center. 1:30 – 5:00 PM. Space is limited, please contact: suzanne@scripps.edu (619) 804-3620 to reserve a spot.

UC Irvine, Irvine, CA – The UC Irvine Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center.
Open House for K – 12 Educators, 4:00 – 6:00 PM – Meet UC Irvine scientists and listen to a panel discussion on cutting edge stem cell research in Aging and Alzheimer’s disease. A tour of the stem cell research laboratory will follow. 101 Theory, Irvine, CA. Contact Lila at stemcell@uci.edu for more information.

About CIRM CIRM was established in November, 2004 with the passage of Proposition 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act. The statewide ballot measure, which provided $3 billion in funding for stem cell research at California universities and research institutions, was overwhelmingly approved by voters, and called for the establishment of an entity to make grants and provide loans for stem cell research, research facilities, and other vital research opportunities. To date, the CIRM governing board has approved 307 research and facility grants totaling more than $781 million, making CIRM the largest source of funding for human embryonic stem cell research in the world. For more information, please visit www.cirm.ca.gov. 

 

And now, folks, I have to get ready to go back to the World Stem Cell Summit—it will be sooooooo much fun—and we will of course be celebrating Stem Cell Awareness Day!

Happy Stem Cell Awareness Day!

 

 

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AMERICA STEPS UP—MOVE TO DISMISS ANTI-STEM CELL LAWSUIT?

 By Don C. Reed

 As you know, a lawsuit was recently filed to block our country’s national stem cell program, to deny federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.  

 Yesterday, September 14, America responded to that lawsuit.

 A motion was just filed to dismiss the case of James L. Sherley, et al, versus Kathleen Sebelius, et al. If the judge in charge agrees with the motion, the lawsuit is gone.

 The request for dismissal is 67 pages long, and I have only read it twice. But first impressions are that it is solid.  

 Personally, I intend to hope for the best, and plan for the worst: to stay informed.

 Here are a few scattered quotes* from the request for dismissal:

 (regarding plaintiffs’ claim that the Guidelines are contrary to law, as per the Dickey Wicker Amendment) “In the Guidelines, NIH explained that, consistent with the definition of “embryo” in the Amendment, stem cells are not embryos.” (emphasis added-dr)

 “…The plaintiffs…(who are suing to block the research on grounds that they suffered irreparable damage by the new stem cell Guidelines) are unable to allege any concrete injury that any of them has suffered or would suffer from the issuance of the Guidelines, relying instead on speculative predictions of potential indirect effects…on the behavior of third parties…”

 “…public funding of (human embryonic) stem cell research was first authorized by President Bush in 2001, has been occurring now for almost a decade….”

 “…(Plaintiff) is foreclosed by existing case law from raising the rights of the class of embryos that it seeks to represent, as “embryos” do not have enforceable rights as “persons” under the law…”

 (regarding the alleged preference for embryonic over adult stem cell research) “..NIH remains committed to the funding of adult stem cell research at a very high level. NIH estimates that funding for non-embryonic stem cell research will continue to increase through 2010 to approximately $311 million, over three times that of the projected total for hESC funding…”

 “Ultimately, plaintiffs (adult stem cell researchers) Sherley and Deisher ask this court to grant them standing based on their desire for a partial economic monopoly (emphasis added—dr) over competition for federal funding of stem cell research…”

 “Had Congress intended to prohibit all funding for research involving hESCs… it could have done so expressly…”

 “If the term “research” must be read to include all acts that necessarily preceded the hESC rsearch project for which federal funding is sought, or research that might ultimately flow from the project, then it is hard to see where the dividing line might be. Science is a continuum, where past advances in cell biology made derivation of stem cells possible, and where new advances might alter those techniques.  The plaintiffs’ broad reading of the term “research” in the Dickey-Wicker Amendment suggests that all such research should therefore also be prohibited, a result that should not be entertained by this court.”

 “Congress has expressly interpreted Dickey-Wicker to permit federal funding for stem cell research that is “dependent upon” the destruction of embryos…. (“The Committee continues a provision to prohibit the use of funds… concerning research involving human embryos. However, this language should not be construed to limit federal support for research involving human embryonic stem cells…”

 “…There are a multitude of parties who would be substantially injured if the Guidelines were to be enjoined. Millions of people suffer from serious ailments, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and type 1 diabetes, for whom hESC research holds out the promise of treatment. These people have waited years for federal restrictions to be lifted for research into potentially life-sustaining treatment….”

 “There is a strong public interest that “artificial limitations on scientific inquiry” be removed, in order “to enhance the contribution of America’s scientists to important new discoveries and new therapies for the benefit of humankind….”

 “Defendants respectfully move to dismiss the plaintiffs’ Complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)1 and 12(b)6….

 “Respectfully submitted,

Tony West, Assistant Attorney General,

Channing D. Phillips, Acting United States Attorney,

Sheila M. Lieber, IL Bar No. 1567038, Deputy Director…

United States Department of Justice, Civil Division, Federal Programs Branch

 We do not know the outcome yet. Merely because our side has presented a strong case for dismissal does not mean we are going to win.

 But for me, what sums up our side up best was an email I received from a friend.

 Kavitha B. has a son, Pranav, with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. SMA is a condition generally fatal before the child turns three. Pranav is four. Every time he has a cold, his mom sits in a chair beside his bed all night, literally fighting for her son’s life, trying to keep him alive.

 This mother of a suffering child was angered that blastocysts are called (in the lawsuit) “minor persons”, with rights taking precedence over real-world children needing cure.

 She said: “”They (the plaintiffs) are all welcome to come to my house and see for themselves, and compare those “minor persons” lives to that of my child. They should live in his shoes (or rather lie in his bed because that is what he does all day as he is paralyzed) and then talk about the rights of blastocysts…”

 But the truth is on our side. As Christopher Reeve always said, we will “go forward”, despite all obstacles.

 And we will prevail.

 *all quotes from: Case 1:09-cv-01575-RCL Document 22-2  Filed 09/14/2009

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AMERICA’S STEM CELL PROGRAM THREATENED BY LAWSUIT

 By Don C. Reed

 A lawsuit is being brought against the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Dr. Francis Collins, and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, as well as the NIH and HHS as public agencies.

 The suit attempts to block the new stem cell research Guidelines, and to end federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

 Here is my layman’s understanding of the case.

 First, the Plaintiffs, and why they feel they have “suffered irreparable damage” by the new Guidelines, and claim standing in the case: 

 Dr. James L. Sherley and Dr. Theresa Deisher are adult stem cell researchers, who allege they will be injured financially if limited federal dollars are diverted to embryonic stem cell research, resulting in less funding for their area of specialization.

 Nightlight Christian Adoptions describes itself as a non-profit which “protects human embryos conceived through In Vitro Fertility procedure”. They claim injury through decreased number of embryos available for “adoption” from the new stem cell guidelines; they claim guardianship of Plaintiff Embryos, (some portion of roughly 440,000 in storage at present, plus more in future), describing said blastocysts as “minor persons”.

 Shayne and Tina Nelson, William and Patricia Flynn, are clients of Nightlight; guidelines would allegedly jeopardize the likelihood of embryos being available for their adoption.

 The Christian Medical Association is a group “opposed to federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research and (which) expends approximately $300,000 a year…”(opposing the research). They claim potential financial injury, that the Guidelines would require them to spend “significant resources” to continue their efforts to oppose “illegal public funding of embryo research.”

 Behind the suit are various conservative religious lobbying organizations, including the Alliance Defense Fund.

 Plaintiff’s law firms include: GIBSON, DUNN & CRUTCHER LLP, Los Angeles, California, and Law of Life Project, Advocates International, Springfield, Virginia.

 Defendants:  Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and the HHS: National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Dr. Francis Collins, and the NIH.

 Personal Opinion: Among the unnamed defendants should be every American family with a child or adult suffering a disease or disability the research might alleviate.*

 Claim: Plaintiffs allege that the NIH embryonic stem cell research guidelines should be blocked, and federal funding denied, because, in their view:

 1. The Guidelines violate the Dickey Wicker Amendment because the research “requires the destruction of living embryos.” The Dickey-Wicker Amendment is found in the Omnibus Appropriations Act 2009, an annually attached rider.

 2. Violations are claimed of the Administrations Procedures Act, charging prejudicial treatment of issues involved during the public comment period for the new Guidelines; plaintiffs claim insufficient time allowed for comment; further, their belief that neither consideration for, nor adequate response to, said comments was provided. They claim the NIH “abdicated its duty to exercise reasoned decision making and issue fair and informed rules.”

 3. Plaintiffs charge “arbitrary and capricious action”, because they feel the NIH dismissed the value of research which claimed superiority of adult stem cells (ASC) and induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) over human embryonic stem cells (HESCs).  ”

 4. Plaintiffs feel the guidelines fail to properly inform potential blastocyst donors of the alleged superiority of non-embryonic stem cell research, nor of the opportunities to put un-needed blastocysts up for “adoption”, nor of the states which oppose embryonic stem cell research, (which may place donors in violation of the law) and how these laws may be undermined by the new regulations. Plaintiffs question whether donors may have the legal right donate blastocysts to “hazardous biomedical experiments.”

5. Plaintiffs claim conflict of interest between fertility clinics and scientists, stating the latter may be able to manipulate the donation process by encouraging a donor to have more eggs fertilized than necessary, thereby benefiting the researcher.

 Goal of Lawsuit: Plaintiffs seek an order declaring: the new guidelines are contrary to law, were promulgated without proper legal procedures, and constitute arbitrary and capricious agency action. They seek to block the promulgation of the Guidelines—and prevent the United States government from funding embryonic stem cell research.**

 *For example, my paralyzed son Roman Reed and I are among the many millions of families directly affected by the outcome of this suit. If research which could alleviate my son’s condition is delayed, he suffers; and as someone who helps provide my son’s home health care needs, I am also affected. We would both suffer irreparable damage if research toward a potential cure for paralysis was blocked.

 **Section VII, PRAYER FOR RELIEF, Paragraph 79, section c: “Enjoining Defendants and their officers, employees, and agents from implementing, applying, or taking any action whatsoever pursuant to the Guidelines, or otherwise funding research involving human embryonic stem cells…” (emphasis added—DR)

 There it is, folks.  As you can imagine, this will be vigorously contested. With an estimated one hundred million Americans suffering chronic illness or injury, what may well be the greatest medical advance in history is not going to casually be denied research funding.

 I am not responding to the suit yet, other than to raise awareness of its existence, because I hope to be allowed to provide testimony in the case. There are answers to every charge the plaintiffs make, but the timing of the answers may be important. If I can help within the case, I will be glad. If not, I will do as I have always done, and report on the action to you, the family of advocates, through this small column. 

 By for now, and don’t forget—September 23rd is Stem Cell Awareness Day!  (Read earlier weblog entry for details.)

Hugs to all, and I hope to see some new friends and old at the World Stem Cell Summit, one week from today!

 Best,

 Don C. Reed

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ON DISASSEMBLING THE EIFFEL TOWER– AND  THE CALIFORNIA STEM CELL PROGRAM?

By Don C. Reed

On a subway to the Eiffel Tower, I had my wallet lifted.

It was Gloria’s and my 40th anniversary, and we were celebrating it in Paris.   

It was our last day of the 5-day trip, and we were exhausted, financially, physically and emotionally; our credit cards whimpered, knees ached, brains were overloaded with beauty.

We had seen so much. Monet’s gardens, lily ponds so lovely, I got lost and almost missed the tourbus; the Louvre museum, five football fields long of art treasure including Napoleon crowning his wife as the Pope sits by ignored and infuriated; the Musee du Branlee, with its amazing exhibit on Tarzan of the Apes; a sidewalk café by a gold-plated statue of Joan of Arc, the shimmering visual ecstasy of Hall of Mirrors.

But Gloria wanted one more present for the grandkids, and  I wanted one more look at that incredible Tower, built by Augustus Gustave Eiffel, in 1887.  

The train was jammed. Gloria got the last seat. Standing, I somehow became surrounded by four beautiful dark-skinned women, who seemed to know each other, although they did not speak. The smallest one of them smiled shyly… The jolt of the train pushed her closer to me, so that we almost touched.

I studied the tourist booklet.

Both the Eiffel Tower and the California stem cell program had begun as temporary.

The Tower was built for the 1887 World’s Fair, after which it was to be destroyed. A condition in its contract was that it must be easily disassembled.

Some Parisians hated the tower. It was physically taller than the churches, and some called it anti-religion. Artists dubbed it a “tragically-designed lamp post”, or “an odious column, whose shadow blots our fair city.”

A campaign was launched to destroy it, backed by Alexandre Dumas, author of the Three Musketeers. Another great writer, Guy de Maupassant, hated the tower so much, he reportedly ate lunch there every day—because, he said, because it was the one place in Paris where he would not have to look at the eyesore.

The tower would have to come down– but the designer had looked ahead. Mr. Eiffel hunted continuously for ways to show the Tower’s practicality. The monument was saved because the new science of radio-telegraphy. What was then the tallest building in the world made a wonderful radio transmitter.

And then– World War I.

The Germans were closing in on Paris. Relief soldiers had to be gotten to the front, quickly—radio signals from the Tower coordinated a wave of taxi cabs. That single action prevented a quick victory for the enemy.

The war devastated France. Almost an entire generation of young men, was wiped out in a single horrific encounter, Verdun, called the most terrible single battle of all time.

And when the second World War arrived, it burst upon a still-weakened France.

Once more the Eiffel Tower became a symbol of defiance. Their country overrun by the Nazis, resistance fighters cut the cables to the elevators, denying Adolph Hitler his moment of triumph at the top of the tower. And when the Nazis did manage to hang their odious flag from the symbol of Paris, a brave resistance fighter climbed the tower, and tore that swastika down, replacing it with the French flag.  

In 1944, frustrated Adolph Hitler ordered the Tower (and indeed all of Paris) to be destroyed, but a Nazi General, Dietrich von Choltitz, to his everlasting glory, refused…

 

I felt the strangest itch, a tingling at the front of my left thigh, where my wallet resided.

I pivoted, saw a small brown hand jerk back from my pocket, disappearing up a   voluminous sleeve, like a gopher returning to its hole. My billfold, luckily, had been jammed crosswise in the pocket, and was still there.

What to do? I bore them no ill will. How miserable a life must be, if the only way you could get by was to steal from other people.  Besides, I had seen on TV that if you did make a big fuss, the thieves were ready for that and would scream and yell right back, embarrassing me more than I would them.  

So I called to my wife Gloria, waited till she was looking at me, then raised my hand above the crowd, pointing a finger toward each of the four. 

“Remember their faces,” I said.

The women glanced at each other.

The doors hissed open; they were gone.

Suddenly, there it was, the Eiffel Tower, dark brown in color, earthtones, reaching upward, soaring to the sky.

And halfway up the side, a tiny bump which was a person, mountain-climbing the Tower. We took his/her picture, and Gloria shopped, while I just stared, up and up and up.

An architectural marvel. Nervous that the wind might bend it, the government had charged Eiffel with full responsibility. If a piece fell off… he would have to pay for it. But the Tower was designed, “to takes the shape of the wind itself”, its maker said, and it merely swayed, adjusting, not warping.

Superbly strong, but delicate, a lacework of metal; if you melted it, the entire 1000 foot high creation would make a puddle no wider than the base—and just three inches thick.

 Six million people a year visit this most romantic structure.

I could not help thinking: what if the Eiffel Tower had been destroyed, according to the terms of the original contract?

What a loss that would have been. In financial terms alone, more than two hundred million paid admissions since then, all gone, and  the accompanying tourist dollars.

And its value in beauty, how it lifts the soul of humanity? That cannot be measured.

Like the Eiffel tower, the California stem cell program was originally built to be temporary, to last  only as long as its $3 billion dollars of its funding: its bond sales.  When the money ran out, so would the program.

At two hundred ninety-five million a year, the life of the program would be about fourteen years: with the addition of the loan program, maybe seventeen.

Or–? Is there to make this a legacy for California?  

Bob Klein, chair of the program, recently said that our state might wish to fund another round of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the CIRM.

What do you think about that? Maybe ten years from now, go for another three billion?

Or is there a way to maintain or increase the funding we have right now?

Remember matching funds? When institutions wanted some of our money to make a stem cell building, they had to provide part of the money themselves.

We (California) got almost an extra billion dollars that way: $880 million.

Could we do something similar for all our grants from here on?  Set up some kind of  a matching grant requirement for anybody wanting money?

We would not want to make it too burdensome on the scientists. The idea of the CIRM is to help them, not to make their lives more difficult.

But if everybody wanting a grant from the CIRM had to dig up some money to contribute to (let’s call it) the “Longevity Pool”, matching grant funds might help keep the program going on a permanent basis, so it could benefit California forever.  

Now I don’t pretend to understand money.

But I can recognize something wonderful, and the CIRM is that.

We know, for certain, that the problem it was built to fight has not gone away.

Chronic disease and disability is bankrupting America. The inability to pay health care costs is cited as the number one reason for home foreclosure. We spent more last year on medical costs than we brought in from all federal income taxes combined. ($2.3 trillion medical costs versus $1.8 trillion total collections from federal income taxes.)

One in three Americans suffer chronic illness or injury, the modern equivalent of the Black Plague, which devastated Europe in the Dark Ages.

In America alone, we lose four thousand citizens every day to chronic disease:  the quiet equivalent of the September eleven massacre—every day.

Our people are dying, or suffering permanent injury, as surely as if they were in war; should we not defend them?

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine is our way to win: a focused defense against chronic ailments: to ease suffering, save lives, and re-invigorate the economy. 

To let the CIRM end would be like disassembling the Eiffel Tower.

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