On Dec. 6, City of Hope hosted several events on campus addressing the timely and much-discussed issue of stem cell research. Foremost among these was the monthly meeting of the Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee (ICOC), the 29-member governing body for administration of California’s $3 billion stem cell initiative. Its membership includes City of Hope President and CEO Michael A. Friedman, M.D., and other notable leaders from the state’s universities, research institutions and patient advocacy groups, as well as prominent citizens.
The day began with a “Spotlight on Cancer” public education event sponsored by the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the organization formed in early 2005 with the passage of Prop. 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative, and City of Hope. The forum featured Stephen J. Forman, M.D., chair of Hematology/Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation, and former patients Mushtaque Jivani, City of Hope’s first surviving transplant recipient, and Anissa Ayala, whose parents’ decision to conceive a child who might be a compatible marrow match for her lead to national media coverage a few years ago.
Forman told a standing-room-only audience about the wealth of knowledge City of Hope and peer institutions have gained through decades of work with adult stem cell therapies and how that knowledge might be applied toward embryonic stem cell research. Jivani and Ayala discussed their experiences undergoing stem cell transplants and shared their hope that embryonic stem cell research will one day lead to new treatments for those afflicted with life-threatening diseases.
The previous day, CIRM President Zach W. Hall, Ph.D., and his scientific staff toured City of Hope and met with nearly a dozen scientists who discussed their ongoing research into stem cells.
That evening, Hall and Friedman were featured at City of Hope’s Fall Forum, speaking on “Life After Proposition 71, The Future of Stem Cell Research,” and answered numerous questions from the audience of more than 150. The forum was moderated by Val Zavala, vice president of News and Public Affairs at KCET, and anchor for KCET’s signature series, “Life & Times.” Media coverage for the event was extensive as well.