A little more than five years ago, visions of seemingly magical stem cell cures danced in the minds of California voters. Lured by the promise of human embryonic stem cells and the intransigence of the Bush administration, Californians voted to borrow $3 billion and give it away to scientists to come up with therapies for ailments ranging from Alzheimer’s to diabetes. In approving Prop. 71, voters repudiated the Bush administration ban on funding of human embryonic stem cell research. The voter initiative also created the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, an enterprise unlike any in state history and one that is uniquely independent of the governor and the legislature. It is also an agency that is facing a new set of challenges as it enters its second five years of existence.