Thursday, June 12, 2008

CIRM Proposal to End Peer Review Requirement

The Consumer Watchdog group has detected a proposed, far-reaching change in how grants could be awarded by the $3 billion California stem cell agency.

John M. Simpson, stem cell project director for the Santa Monica group, reported on his blog Wednesday that CIRM is proposed to eliminate language that requires peer review of grant applications. Instead, the CIRM president, currently Alan Trounson, would review the applications.

Simpson quotes a CIRM spokesman as saying that the language is intended to apply in the cases of applications for small grants for conferences and workshops. However, Simpson notes that the proposed language goes well beyond that.

He said that the language in the grants administration policy that would be eliminated is:
"'All research proposals will be peer reviewed so that the most promising scientific proposals are funded.'

"The reason given:

"'This is a substantive change to allow for the possibility of Program Announcements under which the President, rather than the GWG(Grants Working Group), will review applications.'"
The change comes up at a June 20 meeting on the grants administration policy. Simpson said he will suggest modification of the proposal so that it would not strike the peer review requirement. Instead Simpson would add the following:
"Proposals to fund conferences, symposia, workshops or similar events will be reviewed by the President."
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