On November 18th, 2014, a UCLA research team led by Donald Kohn, M.D., announced a breakthrough gene therapy and stem cell cure for "bubble baby" disease, or severe combined immunodefiency (SCID). Babies born with SCID lack an immune system and have no ability to fight off infections so even a minor cold could be deadly. The team's treatment approach cured all 18 children who participated in the trial.
CIRM has awarded over $13 million to Kohn's team to support a clinical trial that will apply this treatment strategy to cure sickle cell disease. The trial is set to begin in early 2015.
For scientists, the importance of explaning their work to the average person is critical. If they can't make their research comprehensible and engaging they risk losing the attention of journalists, potential donors, politicians, or all those good people whose tax money funds their science.
To help promote better science communication with the public, CIRM held an elevator pitch video challenge at the 2013 CIRM Grantee Meeting March 7-9 in San Francisco. Participants recorded pitches (ideally 30 seconds or less) describing their research on camera at the meeting. Those who could not attend the meeting sent in their videos. Thanks to everyone for participating.