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Archive for October, 2011

THE STEM CELL SPEECH AMERICA MUST HEAR

THE STEM CELL SPEECH AMERICA MUST HEAR

By Don C. Reed

What if there was a speech so powerful that it might help solve America’s most pressing financial problems– and ease the suffering of millions— would you want to hear it?

First, consider the greatest threat to the economy today: chronic disease.

An estimated 109 million Americans (roughly one in three) have one or more incurable illnesses or disabilities. http://www.milkeninstitute.org/pdf/chronic_disease_report.pdf  This matters: for whether you are sick or not, you pay the increased insurance rates and taxes needed to provide their endless care.

In 2009, chronic disease cost America $1.65 trillion, equaling the national debt ($1.60 trillion) for that same amount of time:   http://www.fightchronicdisease.org/media-center/releases/us-spending-chronic-disease-now-equal-nation%E2%80%99s-annual-federal-deficit

 This is more than all federal income taxes combined: ($1.4 trillion, in 2010) combined.  http://www.irs.gov/taxstats/article/0,,id=102886,00.html

Can any medical system—any nation– absorb such costs?   

Unless we plan to abandon our loved ones, there is only one way to reduce that mountain of medical debt: research for cure. We must eliminate the diseases.

But how do we pay for the research?

That is where “The Speech” comes in. I have listened to it nine times* so far. It’s that important.
Ignore the boring title:  “A New Governmental and Philanthropic Paradigm for Funding Stem Cell Research”.

It was written and delivered by Bob Klein, who began California’s stem cell program.

This is an amazing man. All his life he has been trying to make the world a better place.

Before he even knew what a stem cell was, Klein helped establish a low-income housing program, the highly successful California Housing Finance Agency. The program provides low-cost loans, so poor people can have a chance to rent a decent home at an affordable cost in a good neighborhood, and moderate-income Californians can afford to buy their own home.  (Importantly, although he owns a real estate business, Klein Financial, which develops low income housing, Klein has never taken a single loan or grant from the program, refusing to profit from what he built.) 

Father of a son with type one diabetes, he helped raise $1.5 billion for juvenile diabetes research.

 He wrote, organized and led California’s Proposition 71, which became the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, (CIRM) the largest stem cell research program on earth.

And now?

He challenges every state and nation to take a hand in the battle against chronic disease, and offers a concrete way this may be done—without raising taxes.

Here are key selections from “the speech”.

First, can the old way of funding medical research take care of the problem?

“I believe the financial situation in the United States and Europe will crush the traditional funding model for medical research. At very best we may be able to maintain current levels of funding, but these will inevitably decline with inflation. The fight for resources has never been more difficult.”

 So what’s the answer?

 “If … the federal government will approve contingent compensation contracts, biotech companies can design a disease treatment. If it … substantially mitigates or cures the disease… (the company) will receive a percentage of the savings for 30 or 40 years.

 “What happens? You’ve just unleashed hundreds of billions of dollars… (This could) …incentivize business with hundreds of billions of dollars of potential payments spread over a long time period, spread over 30 or 40 years…”

 Which brings us to the “why should they do it?” question. If “Big Pharma” is making tons of money off people being sick all their lives, why should they care about cure?

 But if they got a piece of the governmental savings… 

 ”.. the interest of (the companies) would be the same as the patients, the same as the scientists, the same as the government…the ultimate goal is to cure, or at least substantially mitigate…”

 The government would pay companies only as they produce measureable steps toward cure: bringing us closer to the day when we don’t have to pay for the cost of the disease or disability.   

 “Federal contracts (would depend on) the company reducing medical costs…

 How much money could we save, by curing even just one chronic disease?

 “In 1955, it was estimated that by 2005, it would cost $100 billion dollars a year just to keep victims of polio in iron lungs in buildings designed solely for that purpose. (But with the polio vaccine) all of that cost has been avoided…”

 Can a new approach free up major research funding?  Klein points to the Golden State.

“The California stem cell program was approved by the voters for $6 billion dollars, three billion for the research and three for the interest.”

How was such an expensive program possible, in the midst of a recession? 

 “…California’s Prop 71 (was structured to) require no general fund payments in the first five years. And the revenue created by the new jobs will carry the general obligation bond payments… through approximately the ninth year.”

 How is the program doing financially?

 “California model agency has now committed approximately $1.3 billion. It has attracted an additional $1 billion in matching grants during the time the first $500 million was distributed…”

 Philanthropists saw that here was a long-range program. They gave big-dollar donations to a program that would leverage their gifts into a legacy of success: genuine therapy advances against chronic disease and injury.

 Today, there are twelve new stem cell research centers up and down the state…

 Obstacles remain.

 “So the question then, is where are we going to get the political will… we have to realize the media environment we’re living in is relatively devoid…of information on what you do as scientists or advocates.

 “Chris Mooney in his book UNSCIENTIFIC AMERICA said that for every five hours of cable TV news, less than one minute is devoted to science…

 “Between 1998 and 2005, (roughly) 65% of all science writers in this country (saw their jobs eliminated)…

 “In 2008 CNN laid off its entire science and technology staff…The San Jose Mercury said two decades ago there were 150 papers with science sections. Today there are twenty left. The U.S. National Association of Science Writers has 3,000 members… (but) only 70 are full time…

 “So how are we going to get the message out there and mobilize the public to support biotech, to support new research funding models?

 “We have a remarkable task in front of us. But with Proposition 71 we handled a very tough subject. We put scientists on the television. We mobilized the patient advocates.

 “Clearly, it was impossible to pass $6 billion dollars of funding authorization: $3 billion for the research and $3 billion for the interest on the bonds over 35 years. Clearly, it was it impossible to do.  But the patient advocates and scientists got together— and it happened.

 “We have a huge job to do. You are the revolution. Scientists and advocates… are leaders in the stem cell revolution… We must get the scientific communities in every media market, in every state, in every country to reach out. Don’t wait for someone to interview you… You’ve got to go to the media and educate them on science.

 “We have to aggressively engage the media… so there’s a broad public understanding of the value of (stem cells) to every family and every child in this country— or we’re going to get run over by this financial crisis.

 “And that engagement needs to start yesterday, because we all ‘have promises to keep, and miles to go before we sleep’. (–Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”.)

 “We are the hope of an entire generation. We’re the hope that in this narrow window of opportunity, a revolution in medical care will not be crushed by an economic cycle.

 “Because we, you and I, have children and families and people who we would give our every breath to rescue from suffering— suffering that may within a decade prove to be largely unnecessary. Thank you.”

 

*To read the speech, go to www.stemcellbattles.com. I am indebted to Beth Drain, of Barristers’ Reporting Service, Costa Mesa, California, for kindly volunteering her transcribing services.

 

To hear it, go to www.worldstemcellsummit.com, in the keynote addresses: “A New Governmental and Philanthropic Paradigm for Funding Stem Cell Research” by Bob Klein.

 

 

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BOB KLEIN’S RECENT SPEECH AT THE WORLD STEM CELL SUMMIT

EDITED BY DON C. REED FROM A TRANSCRIPT KINDLY VOLUNTEERED BY BETH DRAIN OF BARRISTER’S REPORTING SERVICE, COSTA MESA, CALIFORNIA.   (ANY ERRORS ARE MY OWN—DR)

 

“THANK YOU, BERNIE (Siegel, developer of  the World Stem Cell Summit): “WE ARE ALL INDEBTED TO YOU FROM THE VERY BEGINNINGS OF THE STEM CELL REVOLUTION FOR YOUR HEROIC EFFORTS IN PROTECTING THE GLOBAL RESEARCHERS FROM A BAN AT THE UNITED NATIONS, FOR WHICH YOUR EFFORTS WERE LEGENDARY, AND WE WERE PRIVILEGED TO COLLABORATE WITH YOU ON THAT.

BUT IT TAKES ALL OF US HERE. IN THE CURRENT  FINANCIAL CRISIS FACING THE WORLD.  IT WILL TAKE ALL OF US AND THEN SOME, TO DRIVE THIS REVOLUTION IN MEDICINE THROUGH THESE DIFFICULT TIMES.

          THE CURRENT FINANCIAL CRISIS IN THE U.S. AND EUROPE I EXPECT TO CRUSH THE TRADITIONAL APPROPRIATIONS FUNDING APPROACHES. AT THE VERY BEST WE MIGHT BE ABLE TO HOLD CLOSE TO THE CURRENT LEVELS,  BUT IN REALDOLLARS OVER  A PERIOD OF YEARS, WE CAN SEE THOSE ACTUAL FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES DECLINING  WITH  INFLATION BECAUSE THE FIGHT FOR RESOURCES WILL NEVER HAVE BEEN MORE DIFFICULT.

          BUT IN CALIFORNIA WE HAVE PROPOSITION 71.  AND THE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION ONE COULD ASK IS:  “WHY AM I SO FOCUSED ON NEW PARADIGMS IN FUNDING?  PROPOSITION 71 OF ITS ORIGINAL $3 BILION HAS COMMITTED 1.3 BILLION APPROXIMATELY, ATTRACTED A BILLION IN MATCHING FUNDS, AND IT WILL HAVE ENOUGH FUNDING TO TAKE IT THROUGH MID 2017 FOR FUNDING COMMITMENTS TO STRETCH OUT TO 2020.

          IN 1955, IT WAS ESTIMATED THAT BY 2005 IT WOULD COST A HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR JUST TO KEEP VICTIMS OF POLIO IN IRON LUNGS IN HOTELS DESIGNED ONLY FOR THAT PURPOSE.  

ALL OF THAT COST FOR 50 YEARS HAS BEEN AVOIDED. THERE WAS AN INVESTMENT IN THE INTELLECTUAL CAPITAL, THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, TO CURE THOSE PATIENTS OR TO AVOID THE DISEASE, AND THAT HAS BEEN A LONG-TERM BENEFIT.

AND WE SHOULD BE ISSUING BONDS THAT SPREAD THE COST OF THAT INTELLECTUAL CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT OVER THESE LONG BENEFIT PERIODS, NOT TRYING TO FUND IT ON THE BACKS OF THE CURRENT TAXPAYER.  

BECAUSE, AS WE ALL KNOW, IT’S A DECADE BEFORE YOU GET REALLY THE BEGININGS OF THE BENEFIT OF THE INVESTMENT, WHICH IS WHY IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS OF CALIFORNIA’S PROPOSITION 71, I CAPITALIZED THE INTEREST SO THERE WERE NO GENERAL FUND PAYMENTS BY THE PEOPLE OF CALIFORNIA DURING THE FIRST FIVE YEARS.

          AND THE REVENUE CREATED BY THE NEW JOBS WILL CARRY THE GENERAL OBLIGATION BOND PAYMENTS IN CALIFORNIA THROUGH APPROXIMATELY THE NINTH YEAR. WE REALLY NEED TO THINK AND ADVOCATE FOR CAPITAL STRUCTURES THAT SPREAD THE COST AND ALIGN THE COST OVER THE PERIOD THAT BENEFITS.

          SO IF WE’RE GOING TO HAVE PRESSURE ON NATIONAL MODELS FOR BONDS OR STATE MODELS, WHERE CAN WE GO?

WELL, IN 2006 GORDON BROWN AND BILL GATES GOT TOGETHER AND THEY LAUNCHED A PROGRAM CALLED THE IFFIm, THE INTERNATIONAL FACILITY FOR FINANCING IMMUNIZATIONS. THEY WERE LOOKING AT THE CAPITAL COSTS OF KNOCKING OUT TUBERCULOSIS IN THE UNDERDEVELOPED WORLD. AND THEY ISSUED $5 BILLION OF BONDS THROUGH THE WORLD BANK.

          NOW THAT ISSUANCE WAS SUPPORTED BY PLEDGES FROM INDIVIDUAL COUNTRIES. SO YOU HAVE A SITUATION WHERE THE COUNTRIES DIDN’T HAVE TO ISSUE THE BONDS. THE WORLD BANK ISSUED THE BONDS. YET THE COUNTRIES COULD MAKE INDIVIDUAL CONTRIBUTIONS  THAT WERE APPROPRIATIONS UNDER A LONG-TERM CONTRACT SO THAT THE FUNDING WAS NOT AN APPROPRIATIONS MODEL THAT HIT THEM WITH THE COST ALL UP FRONT. THE FUNDING WAS SPREAD OVER 20 PLUS YEARS.

          THE VALUE TO DEVELOPED NATIONS OF SPREADING THEIR COST OVER A LARGE NUMBER OF YEARS–  IN THIS BUDGET CYCLE, IN THESE BUDGET TIMES–  IS IMMENSE, AND CERTAINLY SCIENCE IS INTERNATIONAL.

WHY NOT ADOPT A MODEL THAT’S BEEN PROVEN? WHY NOT GO TO AN INTERNATIONAL LEVEL AND SEE IF WE CAN SUPPLEMENT THE NIH FUNDING, SUPPLEMENT CALIFORNIA’S FUNDING? THIS IS NOT A PARADIGM OR A MODEL TO REPLACE THE EXISTING FINANCING RESOURCES, BUT TO REALIZE THOSE EXISTING RESOURCES WILL BE UNDER IMMENSE PRESSURE.   TO SUPPLEMENT THOSE RESOURCES, THE AGENCY THAT RUNS THIS UNDER CONTRACT WITH THE WORLD BANK COULD OPERATE JUST LIKE CIRM DOES, AS A PUBLIC CORPORATION, A GLOBAL PUBLIC CORPORATION, WITH PEER REVIEW, WITH ALL THE PROCESSES WE’VE PUT IN PLACE FOR CIRM, WITH RECUSALS WHEN A SCIENTIST FROM A PARTICULAR NATION WAS UP FOR CONSIDERATION ON A GRANT OR A LOAN.

          SO I WOULD SUGGEST BY LOOKING OUTSIDE OUR NATIONAL MODELS, WE MIGHT BE ABLE TO FIND IN THIS DIFFICULT TIME PERIOD A WAY TO EXPAND BY BILLIONS OF DOLLARS OR TENS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS, (AFTER A TEST PERIOD), A NEW FUNDING RESOURCE THAT WILL BE VERY IMPORTANT AS A BRIDGE TO A TIME WHEN THE ECONOMIES OF THE WORLD ARE IN BETTER SHAPE AND NATIONAL FUNDIING IS REALLY MORE REALISTIC.

          IT IS, HOWEVER, CRITICAL FOR US WHEN WE’RE LOOKING AT THE FUNDING STRUCTURES TO GET FROM WHERE WE ARE TO GET FROM BEING ABLE TO FUND UP TO … A PHASE 1 HUMAN TRIAL.

AND HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET THROUGH THE PHASE II TRIALS? HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET TO COMMERCIALIZATION? WITH CIRM WE HAVE A LIMITED AMOUNT OF FUNDS WHERE WE CAN GET UP TO A PHASE II A OR II B HUMAN TRIALS TO WHERE COMPANIES CAN SEE THAT THEY HAVE A SHORT ENOUGH TIME PERIOD THAT THEY CAN ACTUALLY SELL TO CAPITAL  MARKETS ON TAKING THAT RISKS WITH  A NEW THERAPY. BUT THE CAPITAL MARKETS, YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND, ARE HUGELY RISK ADVERSE IN THIS CLIMATE. SO THAT’S A VERY SMALL WINDOW FOR A LIMITED NUMBER OF THERAPIES THAT ARE GOING TO GET A GOOD RECEPTION.

          WE NEED SOME MAJOR ECONOMIC DRIVERS. AND ONE OF OUR PROBLEMS IN FULLY ENGAGING BIOTECH OR PHARMA IS THAT THE CAPITAL MODEL FOR AN INTERVENTIONIST STEM CELL THERAPY THAT SUBSTANTIALLY MITIGATES DISEASE– OR IN FACT CURES SOMEONE THROUGH  AN INTERVENTIONIST THERAPY–  REALLY BREAKS THE CURRENT MODEL UNDER THEIR BUSINESS PLAN.

          LOOK AT LIPITOR. LOOK AT LONG-TERM CANCER THERAPIES. THEY’RE CHRONIC THERAPIES OR THEY’RE LONG-TERM TREATMENTS TO PREVENT THE DEVELOPMENT OF A CONDITION. THEY’RE A LONG-TERM INCOME STREAM. IF YOU COME IN WITH A NEW APPROACH TO KIDNEY DISEASE THAT CURES THE KIDNEY DISEASE, HOW ARE YOU GOING TO BE ABLE TO LAY ALLOF THAT COST UP FRONT ON A SINGLE THERAPY OR LIMITED NUMBER OF THERAPIES? HOW MANY DISEASES CAN THE U.S. BUDGET OR GERMANY’S BUDGET OR CANADA’S BUDGET TAKE AND AFFORD TO MAKE MASSIVE FRONT-END PAYMENTS ON.  RIGHT?

          SO YOU HAVE STEM CELL TRANSPLANTS FOR LEUKEMIA. IF YOU HAD STEM CELL TRANSPLANTS FOR 40 DISEASES, WHAT’S THAT GOING TO DO IF IT HAS TO BE A FRONT-END PAYMENT? WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN IS THERE WON’T BE ENOUGH RESOURCES, AND YOU ARE GOING TO GET SEVERE  RATIONING OR LIMITATIONS ON WHAT CONDITIONS CAN BE ADDRESSED. THAT IS NOT ALIGNED WITH OUR GOAL TO TREAT DISEASES WITH THE BEST SCIENCE THAT HUMANITY CAN BRING TO BEAR.

          SO AS A POTENTIAL NEW PARADIGM, I SUGGEST TO YOU THAT WE CAN LOOK TO THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, WHICH IN THE UNITED STATES HAS A COST SAVINGS FORMULA THEY DID EXPERIMENTS WITH. THEY ESSENTIALY SAID TO DEFENSE CONTRACTORS, IF YOU SAVE A PERCENTAGE OF THIS NEW MILITARY SYSTEM, WE’LL SHARE WITH YOU IN THOSE SAVINGS.

NOW, THINK ABOUT THE IMPLICATIONS OF THAT AND IGNORE FOR A MOMENT THE FACT THAT THEY LIMITED THE SAVINGS TO A VERY SHORT PERIOD OF YEARS AND THEY CAPPED IT AT SUCH A SMALL AMOUNT OF MONEY, THAT THE TRANSACTION COSTS FOR MOST  MILITARY CONTRACTORS WEREN’T WORTH DEALING WITH  IT.

          BUT REDESIGN THE PROGRAM SO IT WORKS. IF YOU SAY TO BIOTECH, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WILL APPROVE CONTINGENT COMPENSATION CONTRACTS, YOU DECIDE WHAT DISEASE YOU RE GOING TO TREAT,AND  HOW YOU’RE GOING TO TREAT  IT.  

 IF YOU ARE SUCCESSFUL IN SUBSTANTIALLY MITIGATING THE DISEASE OR CURING THE DISEASE, WE WILL GIVE YOU A PERCENTAGE OF THE SAVINGS FOR 30 YEARS OR 4O YEARS.

WHAT HAPPENS?  YOU’VE UNLEASHED HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS. WHY CAN’T THE CONGRESS DO THAT RIGHT NOW? WHY CAN’T THEY JUST APPROPRIATE THE MONEY? BECAUSE WE HAVE A PAY-GO CONGRESS AS THEY WILL IN GERMANY AND FRANCE AND THE UNITED KINGDOM.

          ESSENTIALLY A PAY-GO CONGRESS MEANS YOU HAVE TO CUT A COST (SOMEWHERE ELSE IN THE BUDGET—DR) TO MAKE AN APPROPRIATION OR YOU HAVE TO RAISE TAXES TO MAKE AN APPROPRIATION, WHICH I THINK IS NOT TOO POPULAR.

WHAT WE REALLY NEED TO UNDERSTAND HERE IS BY SIGNING FEDERAL CONTRACTS THAT ARE SUBJECT TO THE PERFORMANCE OF THE COMPANY ON REDUCING MEDICAL COSTS AS SOON AS CRITERIA ARE MET, IN KIDNEY DISEASE, IS THE REPAIR—IS THE STEM CELL THERAPY PROVIDING A REPAIR SO THE INDIVIDUAL DOESN’T HAVE TO BE ON DIALYSIS? OR HAVE WE AVERTED IT GOING TO THAT POINT, THE PROTEINS IN THE BLOOD ARE MUCH LOWER? RIGHT?

          CAN WE SEE INDICATORS ALONG THE WAY THAT WE COULD SET WITH GOOD SCIENTIFIC REVIEWERS SO THAT WE ARE AVOIDING THINGS LIKE AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION?

CAN WE CREATE A COMPENSATION SYSTEM WHERE COMPANIES CAN TAKE THESE CONTRACTS AND AS SOON AS THEY START TO SEE POSITIVE RESULTS…THEY CAN START BORROWING AGAINST THEM? AND AS THE POPULATION USING IT INCREASES, THEY CAN BORROW MORE. WHAT DOES THAT DO FOR THE COMPANY?

          WHAT THAT MEANS FOR THE COMPANY IS THAT IF THEY CAN BORROW ON A FEDERAL CONTRACT, THEY CAN BORROW LONG-TERM AT A VERY LOW RATE, AND THEY CAN REPLACE EXTRAORDINARILY EXPENSIVE VENTURE CAPITAL UP FRONT.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? … NOW THEY CAN TAKE A RISK ON A BROADER NUMBER OF DISEASES. NOW MAYBE THEY CAN TAKE A RISK ON ALS (LOU GEHRIG’S DISEASE) WHICH IS A SMALL POPULATION. NOW MAYBE THEY CAN TAKE A RISK ON A BIGGER PORTFOLIO BECAUSE THEY HAVE A BUSINESS MODEL TO DEAL WITH STEM CELL RESEARCH.  … RIGHT NOW THEY DON’T HAVE THAT BUSINESS MODEL, AND THERE’S A LOT OF THE SKEPTICS OUT THERE THAT SAYS, “WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO? CHARGE A MILLION DOLLARS A THERAPY? WHO’S GOING TO PAY THAT UP FRONT?”  HOW CAN ANY MEDICAL SYSTEM AFFORD THAT FOR A BROAD RANGE OF DISEASES?

          WE HAVE TO LOOK DOWNSTREAM AS WE CELEBRATE THE DISCOVERIES THAT ARE MILESTONES IN KNOWLEDGE AND MOVING TOWARD THERAPIES. WE HAVE TO LOOK DOWNSTREAM TO A NEW PARADIGM TO CREATE A BUSINESS MODEL THAT CAN REALLY INCENTIVIZE  BUSINESS WITH HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS  OF POTENTIAL PAYMENTS SPREAD OVER 30-40 YEARS, SPREAD OVER THE BENEFIT PERIOD SO EFFECTIVELY THOSE GENERATIONS THAT ARE GETTING THE BENEFITS OF IMPROVED QUALITY OF LIFE AND/OR LOWER COST ARE PAYING THAT OUT OF A PORTION OF THE SAVINGS.       

          SO I SUGGEST TO YOU THAT GETTING THE CURRENT CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES TO RAISE TAXES TO FUND MORE RESEARCH IS NOT PROBABLE.  BUT GETTING THE CURRENT CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES TO LOOK AT A PROGRAM WHERE YOU CAN TAKE A PERCENTAGE OF THE SAVINGS AND PAY IT TO A COMPANY–  UNDER A LONG-TERM CONTRACT  WHERE THE COMPANIES ARE ALL COMPETING TO SEE WHO CAN CREATE A THERAPY THAT WILL REDUCE HUMAN SUFFERING AND SAVE THE GOVERNMENT MONEY– YOU’VE DONE SOMETHING REMARKABLE.

CURRENTLY THE BUSINESS INTEREST OF BIOTECH, BECAUSE OF THE EXISTENCE OF THE CURRENT BUSINESS MODEL, IS ALIGNED WITH CREATING A LONG-TERM THERAPY.  THERE ARE A LOT OF GREAT PEOPLE IN BIOTECH WHO REALLY WANT TO CURE PEOPLE, BUT WE PUT THEM INTO A QUANDARY. BECAUSE THEIR  ECONOMIC INTERESTS ARE REWARDED IF THEY CREATE A LONG-TERM THERAPY, NOT IF THEY CREATE AN INTERVENTIONIST THERAPY …THAT’S NOT THEIR INCENTIVE.  

          SO WE HAVE TO CREATE A BUSINESS MODEL THAT REALLY MOTIVATES THEM TO A LARGE SCALE. UNDER THIS MODEL WE’VE RE-ALIGNED THE INTEREST OF BIOTECH TO BE THE SAME AS THE PATIENTS, TO BE THE SAME AS THE SCIENTISTS, TO BE THE SAME AS THE GOVERNMENT.  YOUR ULTIMATE GOAL IS TO CURE… OR AT LEAST TO SUBSTANTIALLY MITIGATE.

          SO I WOULD SUGGEST TO YOU THAT EXPANDING THE BOND MODEL, THE NEW PARADIGM OF CALIFORNIA’S PROP 71, SUCH AS THE ADOPTION  IN TEXAS OF A $3 BILLION BOND FINANCE PROGRAM, SUCH AS THE THIRD FRONTIER PROGRAM IN OHIO, WHICH INCLUDED BIOTECH FUNDING,  IS FUNDAMENTALLY AN IMPORTANT GOAL. BUT WE HAVE TO GO THE EXTRA MILE AND LOOK AT HOW WE’RE GOING TO GET TO COMMERCIALIZATION…

          AS WE EXPAND THE BOND FINANCING TO SPREAD THE COST OF RESEARCH OVER THE GENERATIONS THAT BENEFIT AND CREATE THE NEW BUSINESS MODEL, WE WILL FIND THAT WE’VE  LEVERAGED AN ENTIRE NEW GROUP OF DONORS, BOTH INSTITUTIONAL DONORS AND PRIVATE DONORS. WHY? BECAUSE THEY WILL UNDERSTAND THAT THESE NEW PARADIGMS LEVERAGE THEIR MONEY. THESE NEW PARADIGMS GIVE THEM THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION:  IN TIGHT FISCAL TIMES, HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET RESEARCH BUDGETS TO EVEN SURVIVE? 

WITH THIS KNOWLEDGE,WITH THE IDEA THAT THEY CAN REALLY LEVERAGE THEIR MONEY, THERE’S SOMEONE DOWNSTREAM TO CARRY THEM,THEN THE DONORS CAN PUT UP MAJOR DOLLARS, MUCH LARGER, QUANTUM LEVELS LARGER DONATIONS THAN  THEY’RE DOING NOW WITH THE CONFIDENCE THAT THEY ARE DRIVING A LEGACY INVESTMENT THAT CAN IMPROVE THE HUMAN CONDITION.

          IN TODAY’S ECONOMY, DONORS ARE SKEPTICAL. DONORS DON’T BELIEVE THE DOWNSTREAM DOLLARS WILL BE THERE. DONORS ARE CUTTING THEIR  COMMITMENTS.

(SO IN THAT CHALLENGING CLIMATE) WHERE DID THE BILLION DOLLARS IN MATCHING FUNDS COME  FROM  FOR CIRM’S FACILITIES? WHERE DID THAT COME FROM (IN THE YEARS) 2008,  2009?…

           IT CAME BECAUSE THEY SAW A MODEL THAT WOULD TAKE THEM AT LEAST THROUGH (THE STAGE OF HUMAN TRIALS) WHERE … COMPANIES COULD … PICK UP THESE THERAPIES AND CARRY THEM FORWARD TO PATIENTS.

          TO THE EXTENT THAT WE CREATE NEW PARADIGMS FOR FUNDING THE RESEARCH UP FRONT, TO THE EXTENT WE PUT A NEW BUSINESS MODEL TOGETHER FOR CONGRESS WHERE THEY CAN ACTUALLY VOTE FOR SOMETHING THAT WILL CONTRACTUALLY COMMIT THIS COUNTRY TO HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO REALLY CURE OR SUBSTANTIALLY MITIGATE DISEASE ON A PERFORMANCE  BASIS, WE HAVE ALSO CHANGED THE GAME FOR DONORS AND THE SEED MONEY THAT IS SO CRITICAL UP FRONT FOR HIGH RISK EXPERIMENTS, FOR BRILLIANT NEW IDEAS CAN BE MAGNIFIED MANY TIMES OVER.

          SO THE QUESTION, THEN, IS WHERE ARE WE GOING TO GET THE POLITICAL WILL FOR ANY NEW PROGRAM. FORGET THE FACT THAT IT IS RATIONAL. BECAUSE WE HAVE TO REALIZE THE MEDIA ENVIRONMENT WE’RE LIVING IN, THAT CONGRESS LIVES IN,THAT THE STATE GOVERNMENTS LIVE IN, AND THAT MEDIA WE LIVE IN IS RELATIVELY DEVOID IN THE PUBLIC MEDIA OF INFORMATION ON WHAT YOU DO, WHETHER SCIENTISTS OR ADVOCATES.

          IF WE LOOK AT WHAT’S HAPPENED BETWEEN 1998 AND 2005, WE FIND THAT 65% OF ALL THE SCIENCE WRITERS IN THIS COUNTRY (FOUND THEIR JOBS WERE ELIMINATED–DR), BUT THAT WAS JUST THE BEGINNING. WHAT’S HAPPENED SINCE THEN?

          WELL, IN 2008, CNN LAID OFF ITS ENTIRE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY STAFF. SO HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET THE MESSAGE OUT THERE AND MOBILIZE THE PUBLIC TO SUPPORT BIOTECH, TO SUPPORT NEW FUNDING MODELS? THE SAN JOSE MERCURY SAID, TWO DECADES AGO THERE WERE A HUNDRED FIFTY PAPERS WITH SCIENCE SECTIONS. TODAY THERE ARE TWENTY LEFT. THE U.S. NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SCIENCE WRITERS HAS 3,000 MEMBERS REMAINING. ONLY 70 ARE FULL TIME.

          CHRIS MOONEY IN HIS BOOK UNSCIENTIFIC AMERICA SAID THAT FOR EVERY FIVE HOURS OF CABLE T.V. NEWS, LESS THAN ONE MINUTE IS DEVOTED TO SCIENCE. “FORTY-SIX PERCENT OF AMERICANS,” HE SAID, “REJECT EVOLUTION AND THINK THAT THE EARTH IS LESS THAN 10,000 YEARS OLD. TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT BELIEVE THAT THE SUN ROTATES AROUND THE EARTH.”

          WE HAVE A REMARKABLE TASK IN FRONT OF US, BUT WITH PROPOSITION 71 WE HANDLED A VERY TOUCH SUBJECT. WE PUT SCIENTISTS ON THE TELEVISION. WE MOBILIZED THE PATIENT ADVOCATES. CLEARLY, THIS WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO PASS $6 BILLION OF AUTHORIZATION, 3 BILLION FOR THE RESEARCH AND 3 BILLION TO PAY THE INTEREST ON THE BONDS FOR 35 YEARS. CLEARLY IMPOSSIBLE TO DO.

          BUT PATIENT ADVOCATES AND SCIENTISTS GOT TOGETHER  AND IT HAPPENED.

          WE HAVE A HUGE JOB TO DO. YOU ARE THE REVOLUTION. SCIENTISTS AND ADVOCATES IN THIS ROOM ARE LEADERS IN THE STEM CELL REVOLUTION ON WHICH THIS REVOLUTION IS INCREDIBLY DEPENDENT, AND WE MUST GET THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITIES IN EVERY MEDIA MARKET, IN EVERY STATE, IN EVERY COUNTRY TO REACH OUT. DON’T  WAIT FOR SOMEONE TO INTERVIEW YOU FOR A DISCOVERY. YOU’VE GOT TO GO TO THE MEDIA AND EDUCATE THEM ON SCIENCE… SO THAT THERE’S A BROAD PUBLIC UNDERSTANDING OF THE VALUE OF THIS STEM CELL REVOLUTION TO EVERY FAMILY AND EVERY CHILD IN THIS COUNTRY–  OR WE’RE GOING TO GET RUN OVER BY THIS FINANCIAL CRISIS.

          AND THAT ENGAGEMENT NEEDS TO START YESTERDAY. BECAUSE WE ALL HAVE PROMISES TO KEEP AND MILES TO GO BEFORE WE SLEEP;  BECAUSE WE ARE THE HOPE OF AN ENTIRE GENERATION… THAT IN THIS NARROW WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY, A REVOLUTION IN MEDICAL CARE WILL NOT BE CRUSHED BY AN ECONOMIC CYCLE. 

BECAUSE WE, YOU AND I, HAVE CHILDREN AND FAMILIES AND PEOPLE WHO WOULD GIVE OUR EVERY BREATH TO RESCUE FROM SUFFERING THAT MAY WITHIN A DECADE BE LARGELY… UNNECESSARY. THANK YOU.”

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STEM CELL STATE, STEM CELL WORLD

STEM CELL STATE, STEM CELL WORLD

By Don C. Reed

Did you ever see a Fred Astaire movie? One of the greatest dancers of all time, he made it look easy on film, light and graceful, as if gravity had no hold on him.

But an off-screen photo of Fred Astaire practicing shows the athlete dripping with sweat, his face contorted with agony. He worked so hard, to make it look like fun. 

So it is with Bernie Siegel, silver-haired founder of Genetics Policy Institute. At the World Stem Cell Summit, he seemed so relaxed and cheerful, always with an extra smile, always glad to see you. He just seemed to be out on a date with his lovely wife Sheryl, (they were in fact high school sweethearts) and they had just happened on this really fun party, to which they invited everyone.

Behind the scenes Bernie and his right hand man Alan Fernandez have been working like Fred Astaire trained, going beyond exhaustion for months to bring about this magnificent event.

And folks, they nailed it.

“The only complaint we have about the World Stem Cell Summit,”  said Jonathan Thomas, chair of the California stem cell program, “Is that there is just too much to take in.”

For three days, October 3-5, the Pasadena Civic Center was jam-packed with speeches, events, and representatives of every facet of the stem cell community.  

As Bernie put it, the folks with us were stakeholders:

 “… scientists, patients, advocates, business people, investors, educators, ethicists, policy-makers, and government representatives from around the world …”

Gloria and I arrived late Sunday night, and stayed until Wednesday afternoon, attending meetings non-stop until our plane had to leave– and even then we did not see everything! 

I felt such pride in our field’s accomplishments, and especially the California stem cell program (technically called the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, or CIRM)’s contribution.

The CIRM was everywhere. From President Alan Trounson’s wide-ranging overview of the latest research, to Don Gibbons’ calm but energizing remarks on science advocacy, to Geoff Lomax’s perspective on “State of the States”, to Chris and Lorraine Stiehl’s hard work on Stem Cell Appreciation Day which wrapped up the event, not to mention literally dozens more, you could hardly turn around without bumping into someone from the Golden State effort.

As Chairman Jon Thomas (JT to his friends, which means you) said:

“We would like people to think of California as the ‘Stem Cell State”. It is my intention to get across the message that stem cell research is California’s next Silicon Valley.”

 Many advocates were there because of scholarships provided by CIRM, helping pay their expenses to participate. They received a bargain rate from the Summit.

Is that not the way the world should be, working together toward a great goal?

Key speeches were delivered in the main auditorium, with breakout panels in various nearby ballrooms.

For example, one of the most moving presenters was Major General James K. Gilman, of the US Army Medical Research and Material Command.

His 20-year career goal was to protect the soldiers who come home wounded from serving our country in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

I had heard that the military had a $750 million program of adult stem cell research, but the grim reality was far less—a total of only $300 million over the next five years—and nothing in iPS or embryonic at all.

It was great for our soldiers to have someone as compassionate and dedicated as the General on their side, but infuriating to see he had so little money (not to mention freedom of choice) at his disposal. I wanted to hear more.

Outside Ballroom B, I met Dr. Wise Young, America’s beloved spinal cord injury scientist, just going in to the session on “HEALING OUR WOUNDED WARRIORS: the Armed Forces Investment in Regenerative Medicine”.   He was going in, and said, “Come on, this is important!”

But—there were seven panel discussions to choose from in that hour alone, and in Ballroom C was one I could not miss, on “FORGING RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN INDUSTRY AND REGULATORS”—that affected the entire field. Regulators can say yes, no, slow down or speed up to all regenerative medicine. 

So, Wise went into one room, I took the other, and agreed to share notes later.

Inside Ballroom C was Ellen Feigal, Vice President for Science and Development of the CIRM , introducing a panel with representatives from:

The FDA… Dr. Raj Puri represented  the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Also on the panel were  Michael Werner of the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine, and Dr. Melissa Carpenter of Carpenter Group Consulting. The latter two were experts in biomedicine, and how to advance that field.

I got angry at the FDA once, because of the nine year delay between the paralyzed rats that walked again (March 1, 2002, in the Roman Reed Laboratory) and the Geron human trials. How many years must it take to see if the embryonic stem cell process was safe enough at least to test on people?

So—I looked in the phonebook, and called up the FDA.

“Oh,” said the voice on the phone, “You want to talk to the ombudsman.”  (Remember that word, ombudsman.)

I talked to the ombudsman, who was an inbetween person, there to answer public questions. He set up a conversation with Dr. Stephen Bauer, head of the Tissue and Repair Department and overseer of the GeronTrials.  For a solid hour I got to ask  every question I could think of, and he gave me straight answers. When we parted, I was still frustrated by the delay, but I knew I was talking to a scientist, not a politically-motivated time-server.

To my delight, Dr. Bauer was in the room and we said hello afterwards.

Dr. Puri said that scientists who were close to a product, should contact the FDA early, try to figure out what tests must be done, as well as which ones could be avoided. The FDA had  to insure safety as well as efficacy, so that no one would be harmed by the invention, and that whatever it was, worked. So if you have a problem or concern about the 9,000 member FDA, call the FDA ombudsman

That piece of information could save you millions of dollars and years of delay, if you were a stem cell scientist or businessperson, trying to develop a new product.

BUT—said Andy Grove, the man who invented the giant corporation Intel, what if the FDA only studied safety, and did not try to determine efficacy at all?

A Parkinson’s sufferer, Mr. Grove spoke with the passion of someone used to overcoming huge problems with “out-of-the-box” thinking.

For myself, I like the FDA just fine as it is, except they need more money to hire more people—but still, Grove offered a revolutionary answer to a difficult problem.

Right now, it can cost more than a billion dollars (with a b) to bring a product to market—and even then, only about one in five new drugs or therapies succeeds.

This discourages investors from putting their money behind new products—and without investment, no products– and no cures.

What was it like, nowadays, to try and raise money for a new stem cell company?

“Brutal!”, said Greg Bonfiglio of Proteus Enterprises, stating that every venture capitalist can now pick and choose between dozens of excellent proposals.

How it works is venture capitalists (VCs) invest money in companies with strong potential. The VC is an active partner, sometimes taking over the running of the company. The audience in this room were looking for ways to get capital from investers, without giving up too much control.

And if the obstacles could be overcome? Another piece of the puzzle of cure, and another panel….

“Economic Development: Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine as an Engine for Economic Growth”.

Chair of that panel was Drew Lyall, Canada’s eternally cheerful redheaded director of that nation’s Stem Cell Network. His presentation benefited from California’s own Elona Baum, CIRM’s Vice President of Business Development, and Kevin Price of the Scottish Stem Cell Network, and Michael May, Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine, Canada.

On and on and on…Problems and possibilities were elucidated.

Example:  how does the opposition to the research gain so much power, when they are so plainly wrong?

One answer is the practiced simplicity of their message. They have only a few key phrases, which they repeat over and over, said Amy Adams, Geoff Lomax and Anthony Santarini of CIRM in their excellent article, “Social Media and stem cell science: examining the discourse”.

This points out the need for “the good guys” to have our own message points clear, short and memorable.

For example, if someone says, “We can’t afford to fund stem cell research”, we   immediately answer, “We can’t afford NOT to”—and it helps to have a few basic statistics handy, such as:

In 2009, America spent $1.65 trillion on chronic (incurable) disease. This is more than all federal taxes ($1.2 trillion) put together. It even exceeds that year’s installment of the national debt ($1.60 trillion). No nation can afford such costs—and it is why the economy is going down. 

Curing patients revives the economy.

Speakers described the Sherley v. Sebelius lawsuit (including Alan Jakimo, who wrote a terrific overview piece on it) attempting to shut down federal funding of embryonic stem cell research

Briefly, many religious ideologues and anti-tax groups sued to block U.S. government funding of the research California supports. Most of these suits were thrown out, on the basis of having no “standing”, meaning they could not show any reason to claim injury.

But two adult stem cell researchers, James T. Sherley and Theresa Deishers claimed they would lose money if the government supported embryonic stem cell research. Every dollar spent on embryonic stem cells meant less money for them, they claimed.

This to me is nonsense: every scientist has to compete for limited funding—why should these two be a privileged pair, shutting down funding for an entire field just to benefit themselves financially?

My favorite quote came from Stanford’s Hank Greely:

“Their case is weak and should not win. So don’t worry—too much!”

We can never know for sure what will happen with an ideological court case. The Supreme Court is in my mind the most conservative ever…

Everywhere patient advocates came together, old and new.  Iwas delighted to have an interview in the book-length magazine, World Stem Cell Summit, where I was  described by Bernie Siegel as the “Grandfather of stem cell advocates”, and got to voice a few opinions, including:

“…scientists  must not be faint-hearted. If they choose to say, ‘Oh, no, politics!”, and run screaming from the room, they have only themselves to blame when their funding runs out…(because) if the educated do not participate, the ignorant will only too glad to make all the decisions.”   

Roman Reed was everywhere, zipping around on his powerchair, making new friends for the cause. He spoke movingly on the Battleground States panel, describing the California law named after him, the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Reserch Act, (which provided $14 million for funding, and attracted $64 million in add-on grants from the Federal government and other sources) and had some great comments on the need for advocates to Twitter…. 

Former Governor James Doyle predicted a major Congressional assault on science in 2012…  

Advocates Karen Miner and Susan Rotchy brought charm and beauty to the proceedings, the two wheelchair warriors listening and sharing. They would go back and report to their groups, passing out knowledge like ammunition, ready for the battles to come.

One new friend, Janet Otte of Minnesota, was just starting out on the advocate’s journey. She and her husband Mark had their own company to tend to, Otte Log Homes Construction, Inc, but now she listened intently to everything about the regeneration of nerves… because her son had suffered Traumatic Brain Injury.  I predict she will be a champion advocate, a real mover and a shaker, helping bring our loved ones closer to cure.

Important: if you attended the Summit, especially as one of CIRM’s ambassadors, it is vital to do two things:

One, write about your experience. Blog about it, send letters to your friends, and be sure and let Amy Adams at CIRM (aadams@cirm.ca.gov) know what you are doing—she is the blogger-queen of the California stem cell program, and needs to hear from you.

Second: you probably picked up a bunch of business cards at the Summit. I got 36. As soon as I got home, I started working on this column—and I sent a quick note, just a couple of sentences—to every one of the friends who shared a card.

Remember: a contact is only a contact—if you contact them.

Forge friendships, and find ways to keep in touch. We patient advocates are the emotional muscle of the regenerative medicine revolution. We must know each other, and make ourselves ready to work as a group.

Superstar scientists… I bumped into  Rudy Jaenisch in the elevator, the evening before it was announced he had just won the National Science Award, the highest civilian honor America can give.

Over there was smiling Jane Lebkowski of Geron, talking about the progress of the spinal cord injury trials.  Basically, “no news is good news”—because these are safety trials only.

ACT was there as well, on their own human trials, seeking to defeat a form of  blindness known as age-related macular degeneration.

You could have heard Michael West, who for my mind began the biomedical industry, founding Geron, ACT and now Biotime.

Chris Mason spoke on what science could become: “Cell Therapy Industry: Billion Dollar Global Business with Unlimited Potential.” Chris believes we should call our effort “Cell Therapy”, rather than “regenerative medicine”, as a more accurate and involving description. Say those two phrases—which one do you like better?

I served on two panels, BATTLEGROUND STATES and EMPOWERING ADVOCATES, both crowded with experts.

Even the audience was well-informed.

For instance, Donn Rubin of the legendary group Missouricures, came to the microphone to make the important observation that staying non-partisan had allowed his state to defeat its draconian restrictions.

Basically, his position is to ignore the Democrat/Republican distinction altogether, so the two sides can work together on stem cells, despite their differences on other issues.

Now I listen carefully to anything Donn Rubin says: great fighter, fine mind.

But there were two sides to that question.

President Obama invited stem cell advocates like Roman and myself to the White House, as he undid his predecessor’s restrictions. He made a promise in the campaign, and he kept it.

But Republicans made promises too.  Their Presidential platform contained a pledge  to ban all embryonic stem cell research, public and private

A friend in either party is welcome, but where continued opposition exists, are we supposed to not mention it?

In Wisconsin, the new Republican-controlled legislature is trying to criminalize fetal cell research, to wipe out the research which defeated polio…  

And how did Republicans vote on the most important stem cell decision of all, the 2007 Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act? Remember, this is the bill one passed twice by Congress but vetoed by President George Bush.  It was the mildest of bills:  allowing funding for embryonic stem cell research on blastocysts that would otherwise be thrown away.

Who were our friends, and who used their power to try and stop the research?

One side was for, one side was against.

House Friends: 210 Democrats, but only 37 Republicans.

House Opponents: 16 Democrats, and160 Republicans (ten times as many!) voted against the research funding.  

Senate Friends: Democrats—45.  Republicans–16.

Senate Opponents:  2 Democrats voted no—and 32 Republicans…

Granted, we can never forget GOP stalwart supporters like Orrin Hatch.

But if one party strongly supports embryonic stem cell research, while the other (at least its leadership) overwhelmingly opposes it, that difference cannot be ignored.

And the American people? Mary Wooley of the award-winning organization Research!America was there to remind us that a recent major survey showed 72% of Americans today supported federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

I shared a panel with Paul Knoepfler, America’s only blogging scientist, and Amy Adams, the excellent blogger from the California stem cell program, sharing thoughts with famed John Hlinko of Moveon.org, and Left Action—John started the session off with a bang, asking for thunderous applause—we all cheered—and sure enough, a couple folks came in from the hallway outside, to see what the fun was all about.

Hlinko said the advocates must not be afraid to be blunt. The opposition routinely calls us “murderers” for our research; John suggests that the anti-research principles they espouse should be labeled “pro-death”, not pro-life.

Children’s Hospital’s David Warburton gave everyone a smile by saying “the last time I was on this stage, I was a tree—literally, in the play, “Midsummer Night’s Dream”—and also something to think about, pointing out that Jerry Lewis, Marlon Brando, and Evel Knievel all suffered from a progressive neurological disorder—which Children’s Hospital at Los Angeles was trying to alleviate.

Arlene Chu, pioneer of spinal cord injury research, empowered a panel with the likes of Aileen Anderson, whose paralysis cure research has just begun human trials in Switzerland; and Sam Schmidt, the NASCAR racer paralyzed in a car crash and who has now dedicated his life to the fight for cure.

So much! What can you say about Brock Reeve, chair of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, which is not one building, but a system of colleges, working to make real the dream his brother Christopher embodied? Brock not only gets the job done in terms of fighting for the cause, but is one of the most approachable persons on the planet, always taking time to meet new friends, and to underline their contribution.

Representatives from Massachusetts (Melissa Lopes), New York (Beth Roxland) and Connecticut (Marianne Horn) spoke about their excellent state programs.

From the audience, I had the chance to suggest honoring the late stem cell researcher Jerry Yang with a Connecticut grant named after him.

Jerry Yang  suffered from facial cancer. But even when the repeated operations took so much muscle from his face that it was difficult for him to speak, he still continued on, fighting for the research he so passionately believed in. He loved Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, called therapeutic cloning, and had in fact cloned the world’s first cow, trying to get a maximum of milk for hungry villagers.

How happy Jerry would have been to see the breakthrough by Scott Noggle of the New York Stem Cell Foundation Laboratory—not to clone people, nobody wants that—but to make a line of non-rejectable personalized stem cells.

And as Gloria and I dashed out through the sudden downpour of rain, on our way to the airport—who came dashing in the other way?  

 Bob Klein, the man who began Prop 71, was there to deliver a keynote address: “New Government and Philanthropic Paradigms for funding Stem Cell Research”.

I hate to miss any speech Bob Klein makes, because he is a fire-hose of ideas and inspiration, always something new.  

Fortunately, in a gift that keeps on giving, GPI has arranged that not only Bob’s but numerous key speeches will be available (free) online in the next few days…

And this was the World Stem Cell Summit: stakeholders sharing their best: working together in a fun but practical way, to make the cures come soon.   

Kerri Kimler of Texans for Stem Cell Research summed it up:

“Collaboration accelerates translation”.

Those three words summed up the stem cell extravaganza.

Oh, and one more:

Wonderful.

 

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