California's stem cell research institute is one of those rare but exciting ideas that offer the chance to do well (for the state's economy) while also doing good (for people with serious illnesses). The ballot initiative that created it, however, was flawed, and the institute's leaders should not stand in the way of repairs.
A bill now before the Legislature seeks to guarantee that the newly created California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, which will distribute $3 billion in taxpayer money over the next decade, will be more transparent and accountable to the public. The bill would place a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November to let citizens decide about the stricter requirements.
In speaking out against the amendment, the leaders of the institution are engaging in inexcusable rhetoric. If enacted, said the institute's acting chief, the amendment would "cripple our efforts." A board member said it would lead to "extra suffering and death."
You'd think there were no bright scientists willing to compete for part of $3 billion in research funds under a system of open-meeting and conflict-of-interest standards. Those are the main issues addressed in SCA 13, sponsored by Sens. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento) and George Runner (R-Lancaster). The measure also would ensure that treatments are provided to the poor at lower prices and that the state shares in royalties.