Monday, April 28, 2008

More Than $262 Million On CIRM Table Next Week

In eight days, the California stem cell agency will give away $262 million for stem cell lab construction at 12 institutions from Sacramento to La Jolla.

But the CIRM Oversight Committee will have other important matters to deal with as well on May 6 and 7. According to its recently posted agenda, they include:

-- Fast-tracking urgent or opportune research opportunities

-- Appointment of new scientific grant reviewers

-- Proposals for grant programs for scientific and technical training

-- The biotech loan program

-- Rules for grants to businesses

-- Changes to rules for the lab grants

-- Equipment funding for the labs (this is separate from the building grants)

-- And defining "principal investigator" and his/her responsibilities re CIRM grants.

Also on the agenda is the definition of "California supplier." This came up at the March ICOC meeting and is the subject of a proposed law -- AB2381 by Assemblyman Gene Mullin, D-San Mateo (see photo) -- in the California legislature.

The bill would define California supplier for CIRM purposes as "any sole proprietorship, partnership, joint venture, corporation, or other business entity, the owners or policymaking officers of which are domiciled in California and whose permanent, principal office or place of business from which the supplier's trade is directed or managed is located in California."

The measure is sponsored by Invitrogen and backed by the California biotech industry group, BIOCOM. A legislative staff analysis said no groups had announced their opposition. The measure is now on the Assembly floor. If it passes, it will go to the Senate.

But back to the Oversight Committee meeting. The agency has not yet posted any background documents for the session, which is par for the course. We will probably see some of them on the CIRM web site late this week or early next. But as we have remarked in the past, without adequate information well ahead of the meeting, it is impossible for the public or interested parties to comment properly or even decide whether to attend the meeting.

This week, the agency does have some justification for failing to post the documents in a timely fashion. Preparation for consideration of the lab grant awards is undoubtedly consuming virtually all the efforts of CIRM's tiny staff.

The Oversight Committee will meet at the posh Luxe Hotel near Bel-Air in Los Angeles. The hotel is five minutes away from UCLA, where the committee has held sessions as well. The panel has met previously several times at the Luxe, whose web site declares, "There's Luxury, Then There's the Luxe." Sphere: Related Content

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