AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
Byline: Terri Somers
Dec. 19--It began as a renegade movement: spend $3 billion of California taxpayer money to support stem cell research.
The idea was to sidestep federal funding restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research imposed by President Bush because the process requires the destruction of days-old embryos.
Scientists and patient advocates say the funding limitations hog-tie American researchers, while other nations have more freedom to search for treatments for some of society's most devastating and costly diseases.
The California ballot initiative, known as Proposition 71, aimed to make the state's scientists more competitive by providing the financial support that entire countries could not match.
Two years after voters approved the $3 billion bond measure, the stem cell institute -- formally known as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine -- is just now preparing to award its first round of research grants, with money lent by the state and philanthropists. Lawsuits challenging the stem cell institute's legality have thwarted the state's $300 million-a-year grants program, by preventing the state from issuing the bonds to fund it.
While San Diego's large stem cell research community has been waiting to tap the state funding, the Harvard University area -- supported largely by philanthropists -- has become the U.S. science cluster best known internationally for embryonic stem cell research.
Also pushing ahead have been the governments of Singapore, China, Japan and several European nations, which have supported their embryonic stem cell scientists with money and favorable policies.
"Proposition 71 is supposed to help the economy by creating jobs first, then new tools and treatments, but until it really gets moving it's just an old Jag in the …