Monday, February 05, 2007

Twenty-five Secret Applicants for $48.5 Million in Public Funds

On the surface, the odds look pretty good in CIRM's $48.5 million grant program for "shared" stem cell labs.

The institute plans to hand out as many as 15 grants, and only 25 institutions have filed letters of intent. Of course, their names are secret by order of CIRM, even though every major University of California campus is certain to have filed. Include Stanford, USC, the Burnham and Salk Institutes, etc., and it is not hard to come up with something close to 25 non-profit and academic institutions. That number may shrink by the deadline for formal applications.

The reason for the secrecy is concern that losing institutions would be embarrassed. Nonsense, we say. Moreover, this is public money that is being given away, and it should not be done behind closed doors any more than absolutely necessary.

According to CIRM's press release, the institutions must provide a 20 percent match of the total cost for renovation and equipment.

CIRM also said,
"The Shared Research Laboratory Grant Program will fund dedicated laboratory space for the culture of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), particularly those that fall outside federal guidelines. (Current federal policy prohibits research involving hESCs isolated after August 2001 from being conducted in laboratories constructed with any federal funding.) CIRM’s grants will support the development of core laboratories to be used by multiple investigators and shared by multiple institutions, and provide an environment for scientific research on hESCs under CIRM’s medical and ethical standards."
The grants are expected to be awarded this June.

Do you think the names of the applicants should be secret? You can respond by using the "comments" function below. Anonymous comments are permitted. Sphere: Related Content

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