Sunday, September 21, 2008

Text of Responses From CIRM Applicants

For the piece in BioWorld Perspective on the CIRM grant process, we queried 18 companies identified by Consumer Watchdog as filing letters of intent to apply for grants.

Three responded directly to the questions, one off the record. A fourth also responded but said it was wrapped up in other business and could not answer the questions at this time.

Here are the questions we asked and the responses from the two companies that responded on the record.

1. Was your company satisfied with the fairness of the CIRM grant review process and the accuracy of reviewer comments? If not, why not?

2. Do you have suggestions for improving the process and improving CIRM's engagement with industry?

3. Does your firm have plans to apply for a CIRM grant in the foreseeable future?

4. Are there any other comments you would like to make on this subject?

Alan Lewis, CEO Novocell,
Question one:
"Yes we were and have developed a relationship with CIRM whereby we participate in their meetings and have tried to help them during the formulation of the grant process."
Question two:
"I believe it is up to the industry to participate actively in meetings to share their issues and concerns. there are often very few industry representatives at such meetings."
Question three:
"Yes---we will submit a disease-focused grant(diabetes) and we have also submitted 2 tool grants. We intend to collaborate with academic scientists to take advantage of the skills and experience of stem cell scientists in California. The disease grant will allow all grant participants to help create a cell therapy for insulin requiring diabetics using human embryonic stem cells as the source. This program will benefit greatly by academics who are leaders in diabetes research translation synergizing with the Novocell development effort to create this first-in-class product."
Question four:
"Since funding of stem cell research is very difficult---both government and venture capitalists have avoided this space--the CIRM funding is incredibly important to ensure this important research is both funded and encouraged to develop innovative products not being pursued elsewhere. Patients around the world will be the beneficiaries of these transforming products."
Dawn Applegate, President RegeneMed
"CIRM seems to be responding to the issue (meetings of Sept 12). We will hold our evaluation until the next round of funding results. The numbers speak for the last round: 50 and 59 applicants, 13 and 10 from industry, 16 and 22 awards, on a percentage basis with academics and industry being treated equally, industry should have received 7-8 of the total 38 awards; the question is were the applications equally competitive."
Our thanks to those who responded. A public dialog is healthy and can help meet the needs of all interested parties, including CIRM. Sphere: Related Content

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