The year was 2004, and great medical breakthroughs were supposedly right around the corner.
In TV advertisements, celebrities Michael J. Fox and Christopher Reeve, both suffering from incurable conditions, touted the promise of stem cell research, which could lead to a plethora of cures for life-threatening diseases.
The ads ran in support of Proposition 71, a $3 billion California bond measure that would create the first state-funded stem cell agency in the nation. Three years earlier, the George W. Bush administration had issued rules to limit use of stem cells obtained from human embryos. But California voters easily passed Proposition 71, 59-41 percent. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, or CIRM, was born. Its mission: to fund and accelerate stem-cell-related treatments.
Fourteen years and billions of dollars later, the agency is running out of money, and backers of stem cell research plan on asking California voters to pony up for round two.
And those stem cell breakthroughs?
Still right around the corner. Or, if you’re an optimist, perhaps rounding it, now.
Stem cell research proponents — including the...