Sunday, July 22, 2007

Upcoming This Week: Japanese Stem Cell Lines, Lab Grants and Presidential Search

From $220 million in lab grants and Japanese stem cell lines to the latest chapter in the search for a CEO, the California stem cell agency is set for a busy week.

We want to point out the background material prepared for the Standards Working Group meeting on Friday. Posted last week well before the meeting, the paper neatly summarized the history behind the matters being considered, touched on the issues involved and offered up draft language to deal with the problem in two cases. It was a good example of staff work that improves the decision-making process.

The standards group, which regulates CIRM-funded research, will consider whether to include some Japanese stem cell lines as "approved" for study. They would join some lines from Great Britain and Canada as ready to use. That means that research using them does not have to go through a more lengthy review process. Specifically, the Japanese lines being considered are ones derived under the "Japanese Guidelines for Derivation and Utilization of Human Embryonic Stem Cells."

The group is also scheduled to consider a problem in connection with informed consent requirements and research involving somatic cell lines. The agency's regulations created a situation in which "existing somatic cell lines obtained with informed consent may not be available for reprogramming experiments unless consent was obtained in accordance with the exact requirements of section 100100 (of CIRM regulations)."

The staff report said,
"The SWG might consider a more flexible standard for use of somatic cells. Interviews with leading researchers suggest the inability to utilize commonly available commercial somatic cells (non-covered stem cell lines) lines would limit CIRM-funded researchers from attempting to replicate studies."
On Wednesday, CIRM will conduct a session for "interested parties" on the $220 million lab grant effort. Proposed evaluation standards are scheduled to be posted Monday on the CIRM web site. Earlier, the agency posted the criteria and scoring. On July 30, the Facilities Working Group will wrestle with the subject once again, but the ball is rolling faster, so you applicants should pay close attention. Don't be shy about communicating with the agency if you can't be at the meetings.

On Tuesday, the Oversight Committee will convene for the third time in a month for a special, teleconference meeting to consider presidential compensation and candidates. They are legally equipped to come to a decision in their seven-month effort. But our bet is that no new president will be announced. Sphere: Related Content

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