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California free to issue stem cell funds

22 May 2007
Appeared in BioNews 408

California's stem cell programme is now free to start distributing its $3 billion funding to researchers, following the refusal of the state's Supreme Court to consider another legal challenge. The high court upheld last year's ruling by a lower court, which upheld the constitutionality of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). The state is expected to begin issuing a series of bonds to fund new stem cell research projects and laboratories from next month.

In November 2004, 59 per cent of Californians voted in favour of Proposition 71, which established the CIRM and authorised it to issue bonds to fund stem cell research in the state - including work on human embryonic stem cells (ES cells). But although some loaned money has already been spent, most of the funding remains untouched, because of lawsuits brought by an alliance of groups opposed to the programme. Last April, claimants in a lawsuit challenging the setting up of the CIRM argued that the institute was unconstitutional, because the spending of taxpayer's money must be under state control.

However, in a hearing at the Alameda County Superior Court, Judge Bonnie Lewman Sabraw ruled that the CIRM was constitutional, and that the plaintiffs 'did not present any evidence that the state is appropriating funds for any purpose or benefit other than a public purpose, the public purpose declared in Proposition 71 of fighting disease and promoting the general economy of the state'. The latest unsuccessful appeal against the decision was made to the Supreme Court by the Californian Family Bioethics Council. Dana Cody, representing the alliance of challenging groups, said: 'We are at the end of the line. We are disappointed'.

Robert Klein, chairman of CIRM, called the decision 'a great victory', adding 'our $3 billion is free from restrictions from the extreme ideological right wing'. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger echoed his sentiments, saying: 'Today's action by the California Supreme Court is a victory for our state because potentially life-saving science can now continue without a shadow of legal doubt'.

California stem-cell programme clears legal hurdle
Nature News |  17 May 2007
Court Clears Way for Stem Cell Grants
The Guardian |  17 May 2007
16 November 2009 - by Nisha Satkunarajah 
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has awarded fourteen teams a total of $230 million for the advancement of stem cell therapy. The CIRM was created as a measure by the Californian State to fund work on human embryonic stem (ES) cells.Californian voters approved the 10-year, $3 billion effort in 2004 largely to get around restrictions on ES cell research imposed by the administration of President George W Bush. This year, President Obama's administration relaxed thes...
17 September 2007 - by Dr Kirsty Horsey 
The California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has appointed Professor Alan Trounson as its new president, following a committee vote on Friday last week. Professor Trounson is a renowned Australian scientist and currently the director of Monash University's stem cell program in Melbourne. The CIRM is...
23 April 2007 - by Sam Berger and Professor Jonathan Moreno 
It appears that once again the US Congress will be unable to override President Bush's expected veto of legislation to loosen federal restrictions on human embryonic stem (ES) cell research. In light of this political stalemate, as well as efforts in states like California, New Jersey, and New York to...
27 November 2006 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
California's stem cell institute is to be given a cash injection of $181 million to fund research through to the end of next year. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) will be given a $150 million loan from the state and has raised the extra $31...
5 December 2005 - by BioNews 
Lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the US state of California's stem cell programme have been knocked back by a judge at Almeda County Superior Court. Judge Bonnie Lewman Sabraw has ruled that the legal arguments relied upon by opponents of the stem cell programme do not stand up, meaning that...
21 November 2005 - by BioNews 
The state Senate of Ohio has approved legislation that would limit the use of state funds for 'therapeutic' cloning and human embryonic stem (ES) cell research. It would also prevent people in the state benefiting from therapies developed in other states or countries that had been developed using cloning techniques...
29 March 2005 - by BioNews 
The California Supreme Court has thrown out two lawsuits that sought to get rid of the state's $3 billion stem cell research funding initiative. The high court refused to hear the cases, but said that its ruling won't prevent the lawsuits from being filed again, in a trial court. Both...
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