When governments cut funding for scientific research the consequences can be swift, and painful. In Canada last week for example, the government of Ontario cut $5 million in annual funding for stem cell research, effectively ending a project developing a therapy to heal the damaged lungs of premature babies.
Here in the US the federal government is already placing restrictions on support for fetal tissue research and there is speculation embryonic stem cell research could be next. That’s why agencies like CIRM are so important. We don’t rely on a government giving us money every year. Instead, thanks to the voters of California, we have had a steady supply of funds to enable us to plan long-term and support multi-year projects.
But those funds are due to run out soon. We anticipate funding our last new awards this year and while we have enough money to continue supporting all the projects our Board has already approved, we won’t be able to take on any new projects. That’s bad news for the scientists and, ultimately, really bad for the patients who are in need of new treatments for currently incurable diseases.
We are going to talk about that in two upcoming events.
The first is a patient advocate event at UC San Diego on Tuesday, May 28th from 12.30pm to 1.30pm. It’s free, there is parking and snacks and refreshments will be available.
This will feature UC San Diego’s Dr. Catriona Jamieson, CIRM’s President and CEO Dr. Maria Millan and CIRM Board member and Patient Advocate for Parkinson’s Disease, David Higgins PhD. The three will talk about the exciting progress being made at UC San Diego and other programs around California, but also the uncertain future and the impact that could have for the field as a whole.
Here’s a link to an Eventbrite page that has more information about the event and also a link to allow you to RSVP ahead of time.
For all of you who don’t live in the San Diego Area – or who do but can’t make it to the event – we are holding a similar discussion online on a special Facebook Live: Ask the Stem Cell Team About the Future of Stem Cell Research event on Thursday, May 30th from noon till 1pm PDT.
This also features Dr. Millan and Dr. Higgins, but it also features UC Davis stem cell scientist, CIRM-grantee and renowned blogger Paul Knoepfler PhD.
Each brings their own experience, expertise and perspective on the field and will discuss the impact that a reduction in funding for stem cell research would have, not just in the short term but in the long run.
Because we all have a stake in what happens, both events – whether it’s in person or online – include time for questions from you, the audience.
You can find our Facebook Live: Ask the Stem Cell Team About the Future of Stem Cell Research on our Facebook page at noon on May 30th PDT