Sunday, March 04, 2007

Stem Cell Snippets: Dirty Laundry and Openness

Humiliation and Secrecy – Scientists are accustomed to publicly humiliating each other, comments Wired blogger Kristen Philipkoski on CIRM Chairman Robert Klein's defense of CIRM's secrecy policy on the economic interests of grant reviewers. Dale Carlson, chief communications officer for CIRM, also defends the public secrecy in an op-ed piece in The Sacramento Bee. The San Jose Mercury News editorializes against it: "The public has a right to know who is applying, what research they want to do and who failed to receive grants. It also should know when scientists reviewing those grants have a conflict of interest. Opening up those two crucial aspects of the state's stem-cell program will help build confidence that taxpayers' $3 billion investment is in good hands."

Audits, Editorials and Dirty Laundry – Patient advocate Don Reed says in a March 1 item that the State Auditor did not find any real "dirty laundry" in her report on CIRM. The San Jose Mercury News editorialized that the institute should revisit its "ongoing transparency issues." The newspaper also said, "If questions over the use of chauffeured rental vehicles are going to receive this much attention across the state, imagine how the focus will sharpen when the institute starts spending $300 million a year and choosing which areas of research deserve priority." The San Francisco Chronicle editorialized that the audit has "the power to keep the institute on track to meet strategic goals and avoid conflicts of interest."

One Million – For the latest on the doings of the advocacy group headed by CIRM Chairman Robert Klein, check out its Web site. Americans for Stem Cell Therapies and Cures is pushing a nationwide email campaign on Congressional stem cell legislation. The goal is to generate one million personal stories, print them out and deliver to Washington, D.C. Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

  1. Of --I thought scientists were accustomed to publicly humiliating each other--, most scientists avoid controversy like the plague. In a world where a competitor is apt to be the next reviewer of your grant or referee of your paper, you can't go around humiliating those in your field. Further, look at the practice of scientific journals. If public criticism were some kind of norm, journals would allow third party commentary on work submitted in journals. One of the most cited journals in the world, the Journal of the American Chemical Society, does not allow third party comments to be published.

    Take a look at the Schon fraud: in the presence of known failure to duplicate his work, only a few tried to speak up, and they were ignored. For example, Solomon tried to submit a criticism to the journal Nature, but Nature refused to print it. With the fraud of Hwang Woo Suk in the area of embryonic stem cells, no one in the U.S. commented on the questionable work because, among other things, many were trying to collaborate with Hwang. [See also 88 JPTOS 239 (March 2006)]