First (and this is important) with rare exceptions, every dollar of the California stem cell research program is spent in California. The exceptions are for equipment or materials that cannot be had for reasonable prices in California. Other than that, our home state money gets spent at home.
But what if one of our scientists wanted to do a team project with an expert in another country?
There are established pathways whereby this can be done.
The out-of-state scientist can move here, set up headquarters and apply for funding, take his/her chances like everybody else.
Or, an agreement can be drawn up between California and the other state or nation. Our scientist applies for funding here; the other scientist does the same from his or her place of residence. If the project and funding are approved, they go ahead.
Great minds combine—and we get double bang for our stem cell research buck!
This can be other states, or nations, or major research organizations. There are already more than a dozen established cooperations in place.
Which partnership has the most potential? I caught up to Bob Klein, the man who began Proposition 71 (the initiative which led to the California stem cell program) and asked his opinion on which country was set up to do the most good working with the California stem cell program:
“Canada,” he said at once, “Canada.”
I looked it up, and this is what I found.
June 18, 2008: Tony Clement, Canada’s Minister of Health announced:
Canada will contribute more than $100 million to the Cancer Stem Cell Consortium, which will work with the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM)…
Anyone who has ever raised money for a good cause knows how difficult that is; to raise one million dollars is a triumph—but $100 million? And that money almost certainly would not have been there, without the existence and backup of California’s stem cell program. Our neighbor to the North is a leader in stem cell and cancer research, but the partnership made dedicating big money easier;
Then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said it well:
“California is committed to being a leader in stem cell research, but no one state or nation should do this alone. Collaborations such as this, which bring together leading medical research capabilities, have great potential in improving the lives of not only Californians, but people around the world.”
More examples? Here are my non-scientist interpretations of a few cooperative projects our various countries/states/organizations are doing. (As always, when I say “we” or “our”, I mean the California stem cell program, not me personally; I have no connection with it, except pride.)
And again, California pays for California scientists; the other countries pay for theirs
For exact language on the programs, go here:
Working with France, we are trying to understand how the body’s stem cells become what kind and how many;
With Victoria, Australia—working to insure safety of cell therapy;
Andalusia, Spain—trying for a treatment of critical limb ischemia (to lessen potentially fatal obstruction of arteries, and needless amputation of limbs);
UK—Targeting leukemia stem cells, the disease which killed so many, including my sister, Patricia C. Reed;
NIH—developing a drug testing panel for autism…using stem cells to find out what affects that condition;
JDRF—working side by side to develop a stem cell therapy for diabetes;
Germany—Developing a stem cell liver support system;
Australia—Stem cell lines to make blood cells, to replace blood lost in operations;
Japan—studying the micro-environment in stem cells, to help fight cancer;
Maryland—developing human nerve stem cells to treat brain injury;
Canada—Targeting the actual tumor-making cells, within the cancerous tumor;
China—developing cells to make a liver-substitute.
Every state and nation has its strengths: unique and irreplaceable. But together, we are so much more.
And so, on this New Year’s Day, January 1, 2018, I propose a toast, to you and all you love.
Let us renew our dedication to the health of every person everywhere, no matter the accidental location of their birth. May our nations cooperate toward what we share: the love of our citizens, and the protection of their health.
Let us work toward the day when there are no incurable diseases, and doctors forget how to say, “There is nothing that can be done”. And to the state where I was born—
Onward, California—for America, and the world!
This post originally appeared on HuffPost.
Don C. Reed is Vice President of Public Policy for Americans for Cures, and he is the author of the forthcoming book, CALIFORNIA CURES: How California is Challenging Chronic Disease: How We Are Beginning to Win—and Why We Must Do It Again! You can learn more here.