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Consumer Watchdog Thursday welcomed a report from the prestigious Institute of Medicine (IOM) calling for sweeping reforms in governance at California’s stem cell agency and an end to the board’s built-in conflicts of interest.

The report said that “far too many board members represent organizations” that receive funding or benefit from the stem cell agency. The IOM said that the board’s oversight function should be separated from the day-to-day management of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).

“The IOM's critical report echoes what every independent evaluator has said in the past,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Stem Cell Project director. “As we have repeated from the beginning, CIRM suffers from built-in conflicts of interest and needs to separate the board's oversight function from day-to-day management.”

“It's long past time to make the changes the report calls for, but given the spin the agency put on its response -- saying the report praises the 'agency as a bold innovation' -- shows it's business as usual. This sort of behavior will only ensure that CIRM doesn't get another round of public funding,” Simpson said.

CIRM is expected to run out of money for new grants by 2017.  CIRM paid $700,000 to IOM for the report.

Click here to read the IOM release.

Click here to read CIRM’s release.

The IOM report said neither the chairman nor board members should be members of the agency’s working groups.  It recommended the working groups report to the agency’s president.

IOM said CIRM should expand its definition of a conflict of interest beyond financial conflicts including such things as the potential for personal conflicts of interesting arising from one’s own affliction with a disease of personal advocacy on behalf of that disease.

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Comment Preferences

  •  About time (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wilderness voice, Be Skeptical

    Never has so little been hyped so much at such expense to the people of CA. Stem cell research is cool and exciting, but it isn't going to make the lame walk and the blind see any time soon. As far as I can see, the main activity of CA stem cell researchers involves traveling to meetings to tell their colleagues about the buildings they just constructed. And such buildings! Oy! Take a look at UCSF's. Built on the side of a very steep hill, it has the architectural charm of a maximum-security prison but had to be much, much more expensive to construct simply because of the site. I have to question why it is that such vast amounts of public money have been poured into construction like this. The sad thing is that the voters of CA were suckered into approving a $3 billion bond measure on the basis of pretty sketchy science. Earmarking large projects like this is a bad way to administer science. Great if we fund more science. Bad if we start parceling it out on the basis of what Ron Klein thinks is worthwhile.

    For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

    by Anne Elk on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:42:24 PM PST

  •  While I am certainly no fan of conflicts of intere (0+ / 0-)

    st, I have to argue vehemently against the stem cell negativity here. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine this year was awarded to Dr. Gurdon (of Britain) and Dr. Yamanaka (of Japan) for their work in cellular reprogramming, including the engineering of a specific type of stem cells called iPSCs (induced pluripotent stem cells) that hold signifcant promise for regenerative applications, personalized medicine, drug screening, I could go on. Further, his discovery would have been severely hindered had we as a species refused to study embryonic stem cells. Also, his group published the discovery in 2006, and it's almost unheard of for a Nobel to be awarded before 10 years has passed. This is to ensure the work has a significant and lasting impact. In only 6 years, the discovery has changed biology as many of us here were taught it.

    Our national interests would be well-served by providing better and more funding for scientific research period. Certainly including stem cell research.

    "You do not have to be good...You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves." -Mary Oliver

    by hwy70scientist on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 09:35:41 PM PST

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