Publicly funded stem cell research in California received backing by the populace recently with the passage of Proposition 14, the California Stem Cell Research, Treatments and Cures Initiative of 2020. The ballot measure provides $5.5 billion in general obligation bond funding to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to support stem cell and regenerative medicine research in California. The overall cost of the bonds, including interest, comes to $7.8 million. This is despite a number of forces accumulating against the measure. With arguments ranging that public support was no longer necessary for such stem cell research to the COVID-19-induced economic nose-dive, what the proposition did pass was a testimony to the Golden State’s commitment to the innovative biotech sector. A lot of biotech, including cell-based therapy research, happens in California; the San Francisco Bay Area represents one of the largest biotech clusters in the world while San Diego is world renown for biotech related upstarts. The Los Angeles Basin and Orange County have a tremendous life sciences presence as well and up in the Central Valley UC Davis and environs continue to push the life sciences envelope.
This cash infusion will keep the California Stem Cell Agency (CIRM) financed for ongoing innovative grants to regenerative therapy research. CIRM Board Chairman Jonathan Thomas, JD, PhD, elated with the news, declared, “We are thrilled to see Proposition 14 approved by the voters of California. We are proud of what we have achieved so far – the cures and therapies we helped develop, the billions we brought into the state in additional investments, and the tens of thousands of jobs we created—and we look forward to continuing that work.
We are honored by the trust the people of California have placed in us, and by the support of our extraordinary patient advocate community and by the many Chambers of Commerce around California who have all recognized our historic achievements. We are already working on ways to repay that trust and bring stem cell and regenerative therapies to all the people of this great state, particularly for communities that have traditionally been overlooked or underserved.”
What was the advocacy group behind the successful measure?