Friday, October 19, 2007

Public Barred from Any Comment at $85 Million CIRM Meeting

Two days of closed-door meetings will be held in the San Francisco Bay area next week to consider the 59 applications for $85 million in faculty award grants to be handed out in December by the California stem cell agency.

The agency's Grants Working Group will meet next Tuesday and Wednesday at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel in Burlingame to make decisions on which grants to recommend to the Oversight Committee.

The agenda explicitly states there will be no open sessions at which the public can comment. That bars the public from even appearing to protest or comment on the lack of public access, which seems to be the first such ban by CIRM, an agency that has vowed to uphold the highest standards of openness and transparency. Previously, such meetings, including the very sensitive meetings involving the search for a new president, have included at least a brief session during which the public could comment.

Here is a list of the members of the Working Group, whose economic and professional links to applicants are secret. Also being withheld by CIRM decree are the names of the applicants for the state funding and even the institutions (including state-funded universities) where they are employed along with a general summary of the research they are proposing.

The Oversight Committee is scheduled to give out as many as 25 awards, making the odds pretty good for the 59 applicants. The awards could total as much as $3 million a year. Twenty-eight unnamed organizations are represented among employers of the individual applicants. Sphere: Related Content

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