Bipartisan inquiry into California’s stem cell agency to hear from Jesse Reynolds

Posted by Marcy Darnovsky November 18, 2008
Biopolitical Times

Jesse Reynolds - CGS policy analyst, Biopolitical Times contributor, and one of the most knowledgeable and astute independent observers of California's stem cell program - will testify this Thursday to the Little Hoover Commission, a "bipartisan, independent state body that promotes efficiency and effectiveness in state programs."

The hearing is the first public session of the Commission's study of the state's $3 billion stem cell agency, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine [CIRM]. According to the Commission's executive director, Stuart Drown, the inquiry will "deal with issues of governance, transparency, accountability and the use of state bond funds."

The Little Hoover Commission decided to launch the study of CIRM following legislation authored by Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), who heads the state Senate Health Committee. The bill - which requested Little Hoover to study the CIRM - was passed overwhelmingly by the California legislature, but vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In addition to CGS's Reynolds, one other speaker, John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog, represents a public interest organization. Also testifying Thursday [PDF] are CIRM Chair Robert Klein and President Alan Trounson, two representatives of institutions that have received CIRM grants (one of whom is also a member of the CIRM board of directors), and two law professors.

CIRM Chair Bob Klein has made it clear that he is unhappy about the Little Hoover Commission study. In September he told the San Diego Tribune that the Commission should "recognize the exhaustive reviews we've already been through." Responding to that remark, the California Stem Cell Report's David Jensen - the de facto journalistic monitor of the CIRM - penned a piece titled "Poppycock and CIRM" that opened, "The California stem cell agency generates a certain amount of nonsense from time to time."

Update (Nov. 21): Reynolds's prepared testimony is now online.

Previously on Biopolitical Times: