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Jonathan Shestack Appointed to California Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee

October 10, 2007

Cure Autism Now is proud to report that Jonathan Shestack, our Co-founder, has been appointed to the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC). The ICOC is a 29-member stem cell research policy board that will provide oversight for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which was created via the passage of Proposition 71 on November 2, 2004.

The top four elected officials in California were tasked with naming most of the members of the ICOC. Shestack was appointed to an eight-year term by State Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuez (D-Los Angeles).

"I am confident that Mr. Shestack will do an outstanding job monitoring the activities of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine in his capacity as a member of the ICOC," Speaker Nuez said. "His decade-long history of activism in mental health and medical research related to autism, combined with his personal experience as the parent of an autistic childe, makes him well-suited to serve on this oversight committee."

The state measure authorized $3 billion in bonds to conduct stem cell research, which is largely ineligible for federal grants under rules adopted by the Bush administration. With participation from leading doctors, scientists, patient rights advocates, medical ethicists and research universities, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine will oversee the stem cell research program and distribute grants to research institutions in California; the ICOC will govern the Institute.

Each year nearly $300 million in state bonds will finance the enterprise for a period of up to ten years. Administrative costs are limited to 3% to ensure that the funds are directed to research. The research will be conducted by scientists at California universities and other medical research facilities throughout the state.

Many scientists believe that stem cells hold the promise of treating an array of illnesses including Alzheimer's, auto-immune diseases, cancer, diabetes, heart diseases, HIV/AIDS, Lou Gehrig's disease, lupus, macular degeneration, multiple sclerosis, neurological diseases, Parkinson's, and spinal cord injuries. Stem cells can potentially grow into any type of human tissue, and scientists hope to be able to direct the blank cells to grow into specific cell types needed for transplant.

Although stem cell research may or may not yield answers about autism, Shestack is proud to serve on the committee as a proponent of collaborative scientific research and hopes that the Institute will accelerate progress toward treatments and cures for a variety of illnesses.
Appointees to the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee include:

Representing patient advocates: Dr. Oswald Steward (Chair and Director, Reeve-Irvine Research Center for Spinal Cord Injury at UC Irvine); Dr. Leon Thal (Chairman, Department of Neurosciences at UC San Diego and Director, Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at UC San Diego); Sherry Lansing (cancer research advocate and Chairman, Paramount Pictures Motion Picture Group); Joan Samuelson (Founder and President of the Parkinson's Action Network); Dr. Phyllis Preciado (Executive Director, Diabetes Resource Network); David Serrano Sewell (San Francisco Deputy City Attorney); Dr. Janet Wright (Cardiologist); Dr. Francisco Prieto (President, Sacramento-Sierra Chapter of the American Diabetes Association); Jeff Sheehy (Deputy Director for Communications, UCSF AIDS Research Institute); Jonathan Shestack (Co-founder of Cure Autism Now).

Representing University of California: Claire Pomeroy (Dean, UC Davis School of Medicine and Vice Chancellor, UC Davis Human Health Services); Gerald S. Levey (Dean, UCLA Geffen School of Medicine and Vice Chancellor UCLA Medical Sciences); Susan V. Bryant (Dean, UC Irvine School of Biological Sciences and Cicerone Professor of Development/Cell Biology); Edward W. Holmes (Dean, UC San Diego School of Medicine and Vice Chancellor, UC San Diego Health Services); David Kessler (Vice Chancellor, UCSF Medical Affairs).

Representing life sciences organizations: Gayle Wilson (Member, Board of Directors for Gilead Sciences Inc. and Member, Board of Trustees for California Institute of Technology); Dr. Ted Love (President and CEO, Nuvelo Inc.); Tina Nova (President and CEO, Genopix Inc.); Michael Goldberg (Member, Board of Directors, Genomic Health and Trustee, National Childhood Cancer Foundation).

Representing other universities and research institutions: Dr. Keith Black (Director, Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute and Director of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center); Dr. Brian Henderson (Dean, Keck School of Medicine at University of Southern California); Phillip Pizzo (Dean, Stanford Medical School); John C. Reed (President, Burnham Institute); Richard Murphy (President, Salk Institute); Robert Birgeneau (Chancellor, UC Berkeley); Dr. David Baltimore (President, California Institute of Technology); Michael Friedman (President and CEO, City of Hope).