Tuesday, October 23, 2007
A move to reveal the identities of the major universities and research institutions seeking $227 million in California taxpayer funds for stem cell lab construction was turned aside today by a key committee of the state's stem cell agency.
The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights of Santa Monica, Ca., and the California Stem Cell Report appealed to the Grants Working Group to make an expression of support for public disclosure of the names of institutions and for opening review of their applications to the public.
The group took no action on the requests. Only two members of the group responded. Marie Csete(see photo), a scientist from Emory University, said the most important elements of the review involve the work that is proposed at the facilities – not the labs themselves, which she described as "tools." She also noted that the reviewers are funding the work of their "competitors." California stem cell Chairman Robert Klein endorsed Csete's remarks in a brief comment.
Our comment. One of the stronger arguments for public disclosure and review is the fact that the scientific reviewers are dealing with the livelihoods of their professional competitors. While the reviewers are all from out-of-state, the stem cell world is truly global. It is also small and intensely competitive. We should also note that the reviewers are not eligible for funding from California. That contrasts with the NIH, whose grant reviewers are eligible for funding from that agency. At the California stem cell agency, scientific reviewers receive only a small stipend and expenses for the time they spend away from their own work. They basically do it for free with perhaps the major benefit coming from a chance to see interesting proposals from California scientists and meet with their peers at CIRM expense.
Below are the statements read to the grants group this morning. Sphere: Related Content