TUESDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2017
It is a rare day that the $3 billion California stem cell agency actually explains in writing its budget and finance choices. Today it did.
Usually the agency relies on Power Point slide presentations at its public meetings that amount to little more than an outline. Today, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), as the agency is formally known, filed a 652-word item on its blog discussing its spending plans.
Written by Kevin McCormack, the agency's senior director of communications, said the CIRM team had examined CIRM's financial picture during the last few months. He wrote,
"It boiled down to a few options.
- "Keep funding at the current rate and run out of money by 2019
- "Limit funding just to clinical trials, which would mean we could hit our 50 clinical trial goal by 2020 but would not have enough to fund Discovery and Translational level research
- "Place caps on how much we fund each clinical trial, enabling us to fund more clinical trials while having enough left over for Discovery and Translational awards"
"The board went for the third option for some good reasons. The plan is consistent with the goals laid out in our strategic plan and it supports Discovery and Translational research, which are important elements in our drive to develop new therapies for patients."
Nearly all of what McCormack wrote is familiar to readers of this web site. But it may be new to many of other followers of the agency.
McCormack noted that budgets are "rarely exciting things." Some might argue that precisely how the agency is spending $6 billion (including interest) of public money is at least as exciting as the arcane world of, let's say, generating a "mesenchymal stromal cell-seeded small intestinal submucosa decellularized extracellular matrix,"
CIRM's spending is directly important to hundreds of California scientists and the institutions that benefit financially from CIRM awards. The stem field in general has already benefited from the loads of CIRM research that is laying the groundwork for greater developments -- not only in California but globally.
It can arguably said that CIRM is the largest single source of stem cell research funding in the world. And one of its greatest products is hope -- hope by hundreds of thousands of persons, perhaps millions, that CIRM's research will speed development of therapies that will ease their suffering or the suffering of those who come after them.
Nothing boring about that. And kudos to CIRM for taking a longer look at the nickels and dimes that make it happen.