Shakti Narayan ’08 and Yael Bregman-Eschet ’05 have won the first stem cell fellowship awards offered under a new grant from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). The $50,000 fellowship, to be split between two law students each year, will enable students to focus on legal issues such as donor consent, ownership of tissue, management of research conflicts of interest and access to healthcare applications.
Narayan, who earned a doctorate in cell and molecular biology, has had a long-time interest in stem cell research. But, he says, it was the passage of California’s Proposition 71 that led him to law school. “I found myself fascinated with the complex legal, political, business and ethical issues that were emerging,” he says. Narayan is a member of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology and helped to organize the center’s March Stem Cell Conference.
He hopes to use the fellowship award to do research on intellectual property issues surrounding stem cell research or U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulation of stem cell therapies and how such federal regulations may affect Proposition 71-funded therapeutics.
Bregman-Eschet began studying stem cells as an undergraduate at the University of Haifa, Israel where she earned a Bachelor of Laws degree (J.D. equivalent). A J.S.D. candidate at Boalt, Bregman-Eschet is writing her dissertation on policy issues relating to stem cells and intellectual property protection, with particular focus on biotechnology and health law. “Some were skeptical about my choice to write my dissertation on stem cells, but the passage of Proposition 71 has quickly changed that,” says Bregman-Eschet. “Proposition 71 added new perspectives to my research, ones that I hope to further explore as a stem cell fellow.”Created by voter approval of Proposition 71 in fall 2005, CIRM administers the state of California’s stem cell research programs. The law student fellowships are part of a $2.5 million training grant awarded to UC Berkeley from the institute.