There is an excitement and energy here that is inspiring and unique, not something one typically finds at a traditional all-science, tunnel vision kind of conference.
Here, thinking outside the box in terms of finding ways to advance stem cell research into the clinic is a key theme.
We started off with many of the top leaders in the field from S. California. In addition, Jon Thomas (JT), the new Chair of the CIRM Board (see picture above left) gave a welcoming talk. You can hear more about the Chair’s perspectives in this interesting interview with my friend and colleague, Amy Adams in the video below.
There are also interviews with my friends Roman Reed and Keri Kimler at CIRM TV as well.
There was also an intriguing talk by former CEO of Intel, Andy Grove. Mr. Grove has a tradition of innovation and thinking outside the box. Grove is an incredibly inspiring figure who has survived the Nazi’s, the Communists taking over Hungary, and other battles. You can read more about his inspiring life story here.
Grove’s central argument today was that the way we as a country handle the development of new drugs is in serious need of a transformation, a real transformation. He argued that the FDA should go back to what he called its original mission of approving new drugs that are proven safe, and leave the tests of efficacy to a process that is post-FDA.
He also argued for a new roadmap for translational research in which academic centers rather than industry do early clinical trials.
Overall I think this first day accomplished a great deal and it might be summed up by a refreshing, intriguing even combination of realism and outside the box thinking. Not the kind of perspective one normally finds at a conventional stem cell research conference.