Don Reed
3 min readMay 2, 2024


A PRESIDENTIAL INVITATION: to the California Stem Cell Program

By Don C. Reed

As a private citizen, I would like to invite President Biden to visit the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), our $8.5 billion stem cell program.

Note: CIRM is a state agency, to which I have no official connection. But I have written four books about the program, most recently “Science, Politics, Stem Cells and Genes: CALIFORNIA’S WAR ON CHRONIC DISEASE.)

My contact person at CIRM is vice President Maria Bonneville, copied on this note. She can be reached at:

As for President Biden, a visit might bring back a shining memory, a day when he and former President President Obama had a tremendous victory.

It was March 9th, 2009. President Obama had just signed an order reversing the Republican’s restrictive stem cell policy. (1)

What a day that was! Bob Klein was there, of course, the man who began the California stem cell program, born of a citizens’ initiative, Proposition 71.

The White House Gold Room is huge, but it was jam-packed with scientists like Larry Goldstein, and advocates like my son Roman — even his mom Gloria!

But permission to do the research is only part of the project; we also need funding — — and that is what the California program is all about — providing funds for outstanding projects: stem cells and gene therapy.

CIRM was built on two citizen initiatives: one, to start the program, ($3 billion) and another to renew the funding ($5.5 billion).

And the purpose of CIRM? To fight chronic disease and disability.

Reducing the impact of chronic disease would save the world an almost unimaginable amount of money — right now, America spends more than one trillion dollars a year on chronic disease (2).

But if we could alleviate or cure some diseases — what a gift to the world that would be!

Is it possible? CIRM is doing it already: disease by disease, patient by patient.

Nothing is easy, of course. Every condition we take on is chronic: long-lasting or incurable.

CIRM has already saved the lives of fifty children, afflicted with Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (SCID), the disease featured in the John Travolta movie, BOY IN THE PLASTIC BUBBLE. When they had the disease, a common cold might have taken those children’s lives; now they are healthy and strong.

The treatment that saved these children may also defeat sickle cell disease. CIRM-funded scientists like UCLA’s Donald Kohn are working on that right now.

On a personal note, CIRM scientists like Mark Tuszynski and Hans Keirstead are also attacking spinal cord injury paralysis, which afflicts my son, Roman Reed. Already, newly-injured patients have recovered the use of hands and arms, thanks to stem cell therapies.

The President should consider visiting CIRM; it would give him joy.

I guarantee some memories, Mr. President, and a look into the future as well. And if President Obama could also squeeze in the time, what an honor that would be! We have not forgotten what he did. He stood up for stem cell research, just as you have fought years for health care.

You are both our champions.


Don C. Reed

Vice President, Americans for Cures Foundation


2. [Google Scholar]




Don Reed

For 23 years, Don C. Reed has supported medical research, ever since his son Roman Reed was paralyzed in a college football accident.