Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Spreading the word on Stem Cell Awareness Day #stemcellday

Today is the fifth annual Stem Cell Awareness Day, being celebrated this year with events throughout California and in four additional states and five countries. CIRM is also coordinating an effort to teach high school students about stem cell research by having scientists visit classrooms. We expect to reach more than 100 classes in California today.

It has been fun to watch this event take off over the past five years. This year, in addition to public lectures and tours of stem cell facilities, we have the Irish Stem Cell Foundation launching a new website and kicking off a national media campaign, and EuroStemCell is promoting resources and activities for people planning stem cell events. Another event that stands out is one at Monash University in Australia, where in addition to live lectures they’ll be answering stem cell questions in real time on their blog.

The full list of worldwide events is available on the Stem Cell Awareness Day website.

Another new feature this year is a Stem Cell Awareness Day twitter hashtag #stemcellday that has been busy with organizations throughout the world promoting their events and resources. If you have a favorite resource for following stem cell research (and access to a Twitter account) post your links under that hashtag for others to use.

For those who are looking to get up to speed on stem cell research and CIRM’s role in accelerating the path to new cures, here’s some background information:

CIRM’s stem cell basics – Background information about the different types of stem cells and areas of research

Disease information – Fact sheets about CIRM-funded research in 22 disease areas

Stories of Hope – Learn about stem cell research from the patients who stand to benefit

Search all CIRM grants – See all grants funded by CIRM, and learn more about the research goals

Progress toward therapies – Learn about the steps involved in going from a good idea in the lab to a new therapy, and learn how CIRM is working to accelerate the research

Funding charts – See how CIRM’s funding has been allocated to different types of stem cells and research areas


1 comment:

  1. The great stem cell dilemma
    Finally, I visit someone who's even more familiar with how game-changing industries are born: Andy Grove, one of the godfathers of the semiconductor industry. He has invested in four biotech funds, is involved in a clinical trial of a drug for Parkinson's disease, has pledged as much as $40 million to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, and has been thinking a lot about the promise of stem cells lately. And yet, at his own foundation's office in Los Altos, I find him to be surprisingly full of doom and gloom. He rejects any comparison of stem cells to transistors. "The sun shone on that industry. The government had a stake, the consumer had a stake, and the telecommunications industry had a stake," he says. "This industry is just as important, but after that the similarities are gone."

    For close to two hours, Grove argues passionately about how the FDA is enabling predatory offshore industries by impeding progress and the many reasons financiers want no part of stem cells. "VCs aren't interested because it's a shitty business," he says. Big Pharma? Forget it. CIRM? "There are gleaming fucking buildings everywhere. That wasn't necessary." When I press him to be constructive, he wearily offers one possible solution. Rather than courting billionaires to put their names on buildings, we need a system of targeted philanthropy in which the 99% can sponsor the individual stem cell lines that matter to them.

    Even suffering from Parkinson's at 76 years old, Grove has plenty of fire in him. On this issue he seems particularly zealous, and clearly frustrated. He argues until he's exhausted, and politely asks if we may conclude. On parting, he looks me in the eye, shakes my hand, and offers one final thought. "What you're trying to do is extremely difficult, but also extremely worthy," he says. "I don't envy you. But you'll be a better man for it when it's done."

    It was clear during our talk that Grove wants an economic model for stem cell research and development to emerge, even if he's not willing to bet money on its happening. And that puts him in good company. According to a recent Gallup poll, 62% of Americans now consider embryonic stem cell research to be morally acceptable, and that attitude is pretty consistent across all age groups. It's a healthy sign that public sentiment is strengthening in the way it often does with scientific breakthroughs. First we fear the different or unknown. Then we realize how much it may help us or the ones we love. It's hard to imagine that there was once moral outrage over in vitro fertilization now that it's become fodder for reality television.

    what about some real results?