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14 years after stem cell research bond measure passed, is California getting a return on investment?




Lab assistant Dave Ferguson holds up stem cell cultures in a lab at the Reeve-Irvine Research Center at the University of California, Irvine.
Lab assistant Dave Ferguson holds up stem cell cultures in a lab at the Reeve-Irvine Research Center at the University of California, Irvine.
Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

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In 2004, Proposition 71 passed with nearly 60 percent approval. The California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative promised stem cell treatments for nearly half of all Californians.

Voters approved a $3 billion bond to fund the science of stem cell therapy. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, or CIRM, was created to manage the funds and find solutions to the world’s cruelest diseases.

Fourteen years later, according to an investigation by the San Francisco Chronicle, the money voters approved is nearly gone. Supporters of CIRM still believe in the effort. They need another $5 billion, arguing if the bond isn’t approved in 2020, it could devastate stem cell research in the Golden State.

So did the initial $3 billion bond measure for stem cell science pay off? We debate.

Guests:

Erin Allday, health reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, who writes about infectious diseases, stem cells, neuroscience and consumer health topics; she co-wrote the investigation piece on stem cell funding for the SF Chronicle; she tweets @erinallday

Maria Millan, M.D., president and CEO of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the state agency that promotes and funds stem cell research

Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society, a Berkeley-based nonprofit that promotes the responsible use of reproductive and genetic technologies