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Cell Watch

Nov
16
2004

It’s only been two weeks and they’re calling Prop 71 – the ballot initiative that created a $3 billion stem cell research fund for California – the new gold rush. Worried local papers are already writing about companies headed West, looking for grant money. To get a slice of the pie, you have to be here. Which is why, in the short- and long-runs, this is a jobs measure.
The state’s big research institutes – three of the biggest here in the Bay Area — are warming their hands over the bond fire. Scientists from UCBerkeley, La Jolla’s Salk Institute and Stanford University are among the appointments to the 29-member committee that will oversee how the grant money – some $300 million a year – is doled out. You can expect to see someone from USCF soon joining their ranks. As well as scientists from USDavis, UCLA and Irvine, too.
Criteria for the remaining appointments is pretty tightly defined by the ballot initiative itself with emphasis on folks familiar with science grant-making and oversight. So the monkey business should – that’s “should” as in “might, if everyone behaves well” – stay to a minimum. There are 10 slots for “disease advocates” to be appointed by the legislature. That’s where the tone and structure of the board may well be set. Patronage-like appointments will diminish the oversight board’s seriousness. Supporters of Prop. 71 said it would take the politics out of science by creating a stable environment for research. We’ll see about that.
UPDATE: See indeed. The Bee’s Laura Mecoy weighs in with the latest set of appointments — the UCs have weighed in — she takes a look at the side-politics between Proposition 71 backer Robert Kline and the politicians doing the oversight committee appointments.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 10:09 AM | Permalink

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