Wednesday, December 12, 2007

CIRM Hands Out $54 Million to Researchers

Directors of the California stem cell agency today approved $54 million in grants to fund some of the brightest young researchers in the state.

The amount fell far short of the $85 million originally scheduled for the faculty award program. The amount was reduced largely because of violations of the agency's conflict of interest code by five of its directors.

Deans at four medical schools and one research institution wrote letters on behalf of the applications. CIRM then rejected the 10 applications that were affected. It appeared that seven of them would likely have been funded.

Directors also told CIRM staff to prepare another grant proposal for consideration in January that will give the 10 affected scientists another chance. CIRM Chairman Robert Klein said additional funds should be added to that round.

CIRM staff said such a round would be treated as completely new. Others rejected on Wednesday would have a chance to compete again. Applications could be revised. New scientific reviews will be conducted.

CIRM also released the names of the institutions that submitted "tainted" applications: UCLA, UCSF, USC, UCSD and the Burnham Institute. All except Burnham had been identified by sources earlier.

John M. Simpson, stem cell project director for the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, praised the release of the names, but said they should have come earlier. He said,
"Holding back the details simply undermines the public’s trust in the stem cell agency. I don’t understand their propensity for secrecy. It serves neither the board nor the agency nor the public."
Names of the institutions and researchers receiving the grants today had not been released by CIRM at the time of this writing. Sphere: Related Content

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