The meeting was almost over when Roman Reed steered his wheelchair to the microphone.

On the table before him sat a 149-page book of budget charts and timetables, the first concrete outline of what California's voter-approved stem cell institute plans to accomplish in its 10-year lifespan.

"I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart," Reed said to the institute's staff and 29-member oversight board in October. "I promised my son that one day I would be able to walk, stand next to him and go hold my wife's hand. And seeing this road map to cures, I know that this will come true."

The room at Los Angeles' Luxe Hotel thundered with applause for the Fremont resident, who broke his neck while playing college football in 1994.

Despite the enthusiasm of Reed and his audience, the book offered no promise of a cure for his paralysis.

Two years after California voters authorized $3 billion in bonds to fund stem cell research, the institute created to oversee the enterprise has just begun what experts see as a long... see more