GodellStateVSFed-ReviewNat08

GodellStateVSFed-ReviewNat08 - Nature Reports Stem Cells...

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Nature Reports Stem Cells Published online: 3 January 2008 | doi:10.1038/stemcells.2007.134 State demands strain US stem cell scientists Margaret Goodell 1 The US stem-cell controversy has spawned additional funding systems. These distract scientists and weaken the NIH Margaret Goodell, Baylor College of Medicine Living in Houston, away from the marketing for California's Proposition 71, I never imagined that California voters would approve $3 billion dollars for the seemingly distant promises offered by stem cell research. I clearly underestimated the exceedingly well-run campaign, as well as the backlash against President Bush that seemed to be one of the motivating factors for the vote. Perhaps I was also secretly hoping the proposition would fail, knowing that despite the top-ten standing of my medical school, Baylor College of Medicine, the proposition could reduce our ability to recruit stem cell scientists to Texas and then retain them. Thus, it was only on that November morning in 2004 when the voting results were announced that I finally began to think seriously about the profound and broad- ranging impact Proposition 71 could have. The first effects became apparent quickly, when several other states started similar, albeit smaller, initiatives. Connecticut was one of the first: in November 2006, the state awarded $19.8 million to be administered in 21 grants and promised distributions totalling at least $100 million over 10 years. These grants included funds for human embryonic stem (ES) cell research provided to small liberal arts colleges with good, if modest, stem cell groups and much larger amounts given to major medical schools that initially had minor programmes. The potential impact of this infusion of cash into the research programmes of a small state cannot be overestimated. At least ten states have pledged or allocated funds for stem cell research (Table 1). Clearly, the local impact of these initiatives is high, as investigators can purchase equipment and hire staff on funds that would otherwise have been much harder to raise. The initiatives have also enabled scientists with a peripheral interest in stem cells to enter the field in droves. Their entry would certainly have proved more difficult if done through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), whose reviewing system is notoriously intolerant of people moving into new fields without a publication track record.
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Table 1 . State government support for biomedical research. Sources: Individual state sources listed below as well as Rockefeller Institute Policy Brief by James Fossett (August 9, 2007).
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Overburdening reviewers Soon after the initiatives were announced, those of us already active in the stem cell field began receiving invitations to review grants submitted to these state funding programmes. California set the bar high, mandating an efficient organization in which most of the
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This note was uploaded on 05/31/2010 for the course MCD BIO 50 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at UCLA.

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GodellStateVSFed-ReviewNat08 - Nature Reports Stem Cells...

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