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Advocates for stem-cell research in California are pushing ahead with a plan to save the struggling state-funded California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) by asking the state’s voters to approve a US$5.5-billion lifeline for the agency.

Americans for Cures, a group in Palo Alto, California, that advocates for stem-cell research, plans to form a non-profit lobbying arm in October or November to support the proposal, the group’s founder and chair, Robert Klein, told Nature. Its goal is to put the plan before California voters in November 2020 during the next state-wide election.

CIRM’s supporters must convince roughly 620,000 voters to sign a petition in favour of placing the proposal on the ballot. If they succeed, and a majority of Californians subsequently vote for the plan, CIRM will continue to be a state-funded research agency.

If voters reject the plan, the agency’s path forward is unclear. CIRM was created in 2004 by a similar ballot measure, which set aside $3.3 billion for the agency. That money is running out. Last month, CIRM announced that it would no longer accept...