Monday, April 21, 2008

Stem Cell Watchdog Begins Third Year

The Consumer Watchdog group and its stem cell project director, John M. Simpson, have won another $100,000 grant to continue monitoring the California stem cell agency and to expand their efforts into other states.

The Nathan Cummings Foundation is providing the funding for the Consumer Watchdog effort for the third consecutive year, Simpson said.

The latest grant, however, calls for Simpson (see photo) to move beyond California and take a crack at stem cell research efforts in other states as well as publicly funded medical research on a national level.

The grant application said Consumer Watchdog combines "policy research and focused legal and media advocacy to ensure transparency standards, conflict of interest prohibitions, public benefit requirements and other safeguards are in place to protect consumer interests and to maximize consumer access to medical advances resulting from public funding."

Simpson, a former top level newspaper editor, ranks among the most regular attendees at CIRM meetings and has a wide range of contacts in the California stem cell community.

At the January meeting of the CIRM Oversight Committee, one member of that panel, Joan Samuelson, spoke up after Simpson disclosed his group's stem cell funding sources and plans for 2008. She told Simpson,
"I'm glad you're here.... I thank him for his hard work and contribution to what we're doing toward the mission. I think you're an important element. We need the oversight."
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