SACRAMENTO—State Controller Betty T. Yee today named a key appointee to the board that governs the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and announced two reappointments.
CIRM was created after voters approved Proposition 71 in 2004 to accelerate stem cell treatments for patients with unmet medical needs. CIRM is overseen by an Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee (ICOC) composed of patient advocates, biotechnology industry professionals, and research leaders.
In November 2020, Californians voted by a narrow margin to approve Proposition 14 – the Stem Cell Research Institute Bond Initiative – to build on the progress already made through CIRM. The initiative authorizes $5.5 billion in state general obligation bonds to fund additional grants, expands ICOC from 29 to 35 members, strengthens oversight, and adds a working group focused on improving access to treatments and cures. Under Proposition 14, the State Controller now appoints six ICOC members.
Elena Flowers, PhD, RN, is an associate professor of physiological nursing at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) who has lectured internationally on topics from racial disparities in Type 2 Diabetes to implications of genomic technologies for the nursing workforce. She currently is a member of the UCSF Institute for Human Genetics and the International Society of Nurses in Genetics, an abstract reviewer for American Diabetes Association scientific sessions, and chair of the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association’s research committee.
Flowers earned her bachelor of science in psychology from the University of California, Davis, and her master of science in nursing, master of applied science in clinical research, and doctorate in nursing from UCSF. Her position was created by Proposition 14, and her term will run until January 11, 2029.
“Ms. Flower’s experience and express commitment to equitable health outcomes for California’s diverse communities will bring a valued perspective to the work ahead,” said Yee, the state’s chief fiscal officer and chair of the Citizens Financial Accountability Oversight Committee that oversees CIRM finances.
In December 2020, Controller Yee reappointed Ysabel Duron, president of the Latino Cancer Institute, to a term on ICOC ending December 2028. In January 2021, Parkinson’s disease patient advocate David R. Higgins, PhD, was reappointed to a term ending January 2029. Other State Controller appointees to CIRM include Dr. Linda Boxer, vice dean of the Stanford School of Medicine, and Dr. Anne-Marie Duliege, appointed by then-Controller John Chiang. Controller Yee has one remaining CIRM appointment to fill.
CIRM issued its first round of funding in 2006, with a focus on training young scientists and building new research facilities in the state. By 2009, the Institute began investing in potential future therapies made possible by the initial awards. CIRM-supported research already has led to a cure for severe combined immunodeficiency, and a 2019 independent economic impact report shows the Institute has created tens of thousands of new jobs and produced billions of dollars in additional revenue for the state. In March 2020, ICOC unanimously voted to redirect CIRM’s remaining $5 million from the first round of grant funding to support stem cell research of cures for or vaccines against COVID-19.
As the chief fiscal officer of California, Controller Yee is responsible for accountability and disbursement of the state’s financial resources. The Controller has independent auditing authority over government agencies that spend state funds. She is a member of numerous financing authorities, and fiscal and financial oversight entities including the Franchise Tax Board. She also serves on the boards for the nation’s two largest public pension funds. Elected in 2014 and reelected in 2018, Controller Yee is the tenth woman elected to a statewide office in California’s history. Follow the Controller on Twitter at @CAController and on Facebook at California State Controller’s Office.