PART TWO: UC SAN DIEGO: HOW MUCH DID THE CALIFORNIA STEM CELL PROGRAM HELP YOU?
By Don C. Reed
Today, San Diego is one of the great biomed centers of the world.
How did this happen? Our nation’s gratitude goes to three great philanthropists: Denny Sanford, Malin Burnham, and Conrad Prebys.
But much of the credit unquestionably belongs to the California stem cell program, technically known as CIRM, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which contributed nearly a quarter of a billion dollars ($231,259,031) to the scientists of UC San Diego.
What kind of research is CIRM supporting, at UC San Diego?
Autism: Dr. Alysson Muotri is developing a drug-screening platform (using astrocyte cells) to see what works and what doesn’t;
ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease): Dr. Larry Goldstein is fighting ALS with stem cell-derived transplants;
Leukemia: Dr. Catriona Jamieson is battling acute myeloid leukemia, by targeting its cancer stem cells;
Cancer: Dr. Dan Kaufman is using Natural Killer Cells (NKCs) to develop an off-the-shelf cancer treatment.
Above all, UC San Diego is battling cancer. This is personal to me, because so many of my family have died of various forms of cancer.
Right now, my beloved wife of fifty years, Gloria Jean, is dying of cancer, just a few feet from me as I write this. All I can do for her now is to try and keep the pain under control.
Tears come easily and often — but what good are tears, when cures are what we need? We must fight.
As Gloria said, when she could still talk, “Stem cell research must go on. Nobody should have to suffer like this.”
Question: did you, or someone you know, go to a California college?
If so, would you like to know how many stem cell research dollars* went to YOUR California college or institution? Here is the URL.
Remember how it all started?
In 2004, California voters said “YES!” to advanced stem cell research, which had been blocked by Republican President George W. Bush.
Bob Klein, father of a diabetic son, organized and led Proposition 71, the $3 billion dollar citizens’ initiative to fund stem cell research.
We won! Voters by a strong majority (59.1%) approved the new stem cell program.
But curves were in store. Frivolous lawsuits blocked the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) — for two and a half years,
Finally, in 2007, the last empty lawsuit was thrown out of court.
California stem cell research began taking on diseases called “chronic”, meaning long-lasting, or incurable.
And the results?
Today, 50 little children who once had the “bubble baby” disease — Severe Combined Immune Disorder, or SCID — can now run around outside, and live normal lives.
A young man, Brenden Whittaker, is on his way to becoming a doctor — instead of dying of granulomatous disease.
Paralyzed young people have recovered the use of their upper bodies.
A blind young woman has seen her twins — for the first time.
Perhaps most promising, more than 80 human trials are underway (or completed) toward therapies for vicious conditions, like heart disease, cancer, and leukemia.
That is the purpose of CIRM, (technically the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine), to bring cures where there were none: to answer unmet medical needs.
But now, CIRM’s funding is gone.
California should renew that funding. A measure to do that will hopefully be on the November ballot — $5.5 billion in new funding.
Here is the bill itself: https://caforcures.com/read-the-initiative/
In addition to helping extremely sick people, our stem cell program brought other benefits as well. Here’s one:
Was your college helped by the California stem cell program?
CIRM has been a terrific source of grants for the scientists at colleges.
If I was to speak before your college’s alumnae group, those public-spirited citizens who work night and day to raise funds for your beloved university, I would say…
Support the renewal of CIRM! If we get enough ballot signatures, there will be a renewal of $5.5 billion (with a B!) on the November ballot.
Turning on the TV highlights the problem — COVID 19 is killing thousands of people in America every day — and across the world.
The California program is an army against this and all chronic diseases. Even now, when their funding has almost run out, they still managed to scrape together $5 million to tackle various aspects of COVID-19 on a beginning basis. But much more is needed.
It all boils down to this; do you support stem cell research and gene therapy?
If so, this is your chance to make a real difference — we must not let our program die!
We need to renew CIRM, recharging it with an additional $5.5 billion. That five and a half billion would provide long-term funding for many vital disease-fighting projects, including COVID-19.
You can help in three big ways:
1. Endorse it as an individual, or as a group. Ideally both!
Click here for an easy, one-step endorsement form.
2. And the second big ask?
Because of COVID-19, normal signature gathering (to get the initiative on the ballot) has been suspended.
But we are continuing to gather signatures, electronically! Every signature is useful, even just one, and we need yours, your family, and friends — anyone who trusts your views on stem cell research. Have you signed yet? If not, please do — we will win by one signature at a time. We must get more, in case some of the signatures are disqualified for not being filled out correctly.
Want to help gather signatures from the safety of your own home?
Contact Melissa King! Melissa@caforcures.com
Or — go directly to: https://caforcures.com/help-us-qualify
3. And our third request? Talk it up! Discuss the renewal of CIRM with your friends. Add comments at the bottom of web articles. Important: write a letter to the editor of your local California paper — even if they do not run it, the editors will read it — and educating the editors is vital! They must know we care!
Do everything you can to support the renewal of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. If we can get it on the ballot, and gain a majority vote, the world changes.
I know CIRM well. David Jensen of STEM CELL REPORT once said I probably attended more public meetings of CIRM than anyone else, including staff. And this I know for sure:
CIRM will fight against COVID-19 with all the organized power of a science-supporting state: mobilizing to attack this seemingly incurable disease, as it creeps across our country and the world.
Science is the only way we’re going to beat this thing. So let’s do it.
Want more information, including an easy message box? Go to:
Thank you very much!
Don C. Reed
Treasurer, Californians for Stem Cell Research, Treatments and Cures
Don C. Reed is the author of three books on the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, including the new “REVOLUTIONARY THERAPIES: How the California Stem Cell Program Saved Lives, Eased Suffering and Changed the Face of Medicine Forever”, from World Scientific, Inc., publishers of the late Stephen Hawking.
*Total funds contributed: $2,718,150,792.00
That is TWO BILLION, SEVEN HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS which went to many California Colleges, Universities and various Institutions — so their scientists can battle devastating diseases like the ones confronting us now — help us continue that fight!