Friday, March 23, 2007

RHA RMI Issues Receive Little Notice in Media

The flap over the $2.6 million California stem cell grant to a Los Angeles enterprise linked to ethical lapses involving a Korean scientist received scant attention today in California newspapers.

Only one story appeared in a newspaper, and one online. Neither contained much new information. Reporter Carl Hall of the San Francisco Chronicle did carry a comment from CHA Health Systems, the parent company for CHA Regenerative Medicine Institute, which was approved for the grant last week by the CIRM Oversight Committee. Hall wrote:
"Jason Booth, a spokesman in Los Angeles for CHA Health Systems, said the research unit is a bona fide California nonprofit whose status was not at issue, and that its 'grant was based on a thorough scientific review that speaks for itself.'"
Rob Waters of Bloomberg.com, who was the first to point out the connection between CHA Health Systems and CHA RMI, also reported on the calls for an investigation. He said a representative of CHA in Korea said the company would respond later.

The Californa stem cell agency said it was in the process of conducting a routine review of all the grants approved last week, which will include an examination of whether each recipient is eligible for the award. Waters quoted the agency as saying that the review could take six weeks.

The Bodyhack blog on Wired.com was the first (on March 17) to pull together the plagiarism allegations involving the head of CHA Health Systems along with other ethical concerns involving CHA and point out that a CHA subsidiary had been approved for the $2.6 million state grant. The California Stem Cell Report on the matter appeared Wednesday night and led to the calls for the investigation.

We have emailed CHA several times seeking a comment on the matter, including a promise to run their comments verbatim. We will do so when we receive a response.

(Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that the California Stem Cell Report was the first to link the CIRM grant and the ethical concerns involving CHA.) Sphere: Related Content

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