Monday, August 11, 2008

CIRM To Define PI and Their Grant Time Commitments

If you are interested in winning a grant from the California stem cell agency, you may want to pay special attention to proposed policies that define the eligibility of a principal investigator and spell out the amount of time he or she must commit.

The proposal, which also deals with limits on the number of applications, will come before the directors of the agency tomorrow or Wednesday. The actual text of the recommendations was not available on the CIRM website until today.

The document does not make it explicitly clear what the purpose of the plan is. However, CIRM has sometimes been flooded with grant applications, creating an extraordinary burden on its staff and reviewers. The document also attempts to deal with the question of co-principal investigators, which seems to be an issue involving a grant that includes multiple institutions. You can find a discussion of this in the transcripts from the June directors meeting (v. 1) and their March session.

Two important paragraphs from the PI document read:
"CIRM, in contrast to the NIH, has a limited lifespan in which to accomplish its mission. Funding is commensurate with a sense of urgency to accomplish the mission that should be matched by a commensurate effort by key personnel, especially the PI and Co-PIs.

"Therefore CIRM, mindful of the urgency of its mission, will require a minimum percent effort of the PI (and Co-PIs), typically 10%, where it deems such minimum effort is necessary to ensure PI (Co-PI) oversight and timely accomplishment of the proposed research. Extraordinary circumstances may be applied by CIRM, at the discretion of the President, to allow senior research scientists to have reduced percent effort commitment in the interests of obtaining the best outcomes for a research project. CIRM and the Task Force agree that no changes will be made to the GAP in order to maintain flexibility."
The recommendations were developed without public hearings by an "ICOC RFA Task Force" that appears to consist of Stanford Medical School Dean Philip Pizzo, who is also a CIRM director, and one other person. It is not clear whether other institutions that are likely to submit grant applications were consulted in the process.

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