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Sunday, May 20, 2007

The fund was his baby: An activist diabetes patient advocate

In addition to a career as a successful California real estate developer, Robert Klein got another job: overseeing the $3 billion stem-cell-research fund that he initiated and California voters approved in November 2004.

Here’s Ms. Dana Reeve’s story about him:

The fund was Bob's baby, and it grew out of a crisis in his life. When juvenile diabetes was diagnosed in his young son, Bob Klein immediately began researching cutting-edge science in pursuit of a cure. Stem cells emerged as the clear-front runner, but the moratorium in federal funding was hindering research. So Bob began to design, draft and push through the enormous piece of legislation known as Proposition 71.

In the last few months of his life, my husband, Christopher Reeve, joined forces with Bob to raise awareness about Prop 71. They held fundraisers together, and before he died Chris taped a commercial for TV. Bob wanted to run the ads but wouldn't do it without my permission. He didn't want to exploit the situation. I gave the go-ahead. It's what Christopher would have wanted.

Prop 71 passed, and led to the creation of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Now Robert Klein leads its governing board. Time magazine honored him in 2005 as one of the most 100 influential people. He’s using his wealth, passion and influence to find a cure for his son’s disease.

Read another of our hero stories, or read the source stories of Dana Reeve and Wikipedia.

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