Thursday, February 17, 2005

Web-casting for CIRM Proceedings?

The California stem cell agency is considering Web-casting the meetings of its oversight committee to make the operations of the group more accessible to the public and media.

The topic was brought up by Jeff Sheehy, of UC San Francisco and a member of the oversight committee, at the group's February meeting. He said that many members of the public and the media cannot attend the committee meetings for a variety of reasons.

Committee Chairman Robert Klein indicated he would ask an information technology consultant to look into Web-casting as part of a broader review of technology issues.

This is a step in the right direction, but nothing stands in the way of doing right now. It shouldn't take more than a week to set it up for the March meeting of the committee. Any number of firms could handle a one-time shot, and it would provide useful information for evaluating longterm procedures.

Given the nature of the agency, a wise firm would offer to post the proceedings without charge.

The affairs of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine are of global interest, not only at academic institutions but at private companies and government agencies. Web-casting would help provide the details that are of critical to scientists and policy makers.

Making the proceedings available live on the Web additionally would do much to fulfill the committee's pledges of openness. It would make the stem cell agency accessible to those bright, young scientists it wants to encourage and attract to California.

And it would help counter the negative images now flitting across the country as a result of The Washington Post's page one piece on Sunday (see item on this blog on Feb. 14). Doing that sooner rather than later would seem to be in the stem cell agency's best interests.

Sheehy's very brief comments begin on page 214 of the transcript of the meeting.

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