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Ballot Measure Would Funnel More Money Into California Stem Cell Research

A measure on the November ballot would increase state funding for stem cell research on treatments for HIV, Alzheimer’s and dozens of other diseases.

Supporters say it’s a needed boost, but opponents call it unnecessary debt, as CapRadio’s Sammy Caiola reports.

Curing diseases is hard. It takes a lot of time, and a lot of money. Advocates of stem cell research say there isn’t enough in California’s coffers to fund this important work.

Larry Goldstein is a neuroscience researcher who supports Proposition 14 — it would allow the state to purchase $5-and-a-half billion in bonds for stem cell research 

“Government financing historically has made a big difference, and it will fund the steps in the clinical trial development process that we just can’t get private industry or the federal government to fund," Goldstein says. 

The money would go to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. It was established by a 2004 proposition that put 3 billion into stem cell research. 

Opponents say the field is thriving and doesn’t need more state funding.

Jeff Sheehy is a board member of the very institute that would receive this money. He’s opposed, but the rest of the board endorsed the measure.  He says the institute can thrive using federal and private money.

“Why does stem cell research suddenly deserve to have the state go into debt to fund it, when it’s amply funded on a federal level? It doesn’t make sense. Sure if we could have everything, I would like a pony and a unicorn and a rainbow," Sheehy says. 

But Goldstein says there’s plenty of money for research when it first gets going … and when it goes to clinical trials. But he says many projects need more cash to get to the finish line.

The ballot measure would also increase the number of people on the independent oversight committee for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.