Monday, October 26, 2009

CIRM Hopes for Big Media Splash on Disease Team Grants

The California stem cell agency today began trumpeting this week's disease team grants to the mainstream media, proclaiming that it means $200 million for researchers in California, the United Kingdom and Canada.

CIRM issued an advisory to news outlets, presumably globally, that a news conference will held at 11 a.m. PDT on Wednesday at the Luxe Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Six winning scientists will be available to answer questions, CIRM said, although the awards have not yet been approved by the CIRM board.

That, obviously, is a technicality. Grant reviewers have already made the de facto decisions, approving 11. Legally, however, the CIRM board has final say. It begins a two-day meeting at the Luxe tomorrow.

CIRM has promised the appearance of six government officials, including one each from the UK and Canada. Also on hand will be patients living with diseases targeted by the awards. Those are the folks who are going to be the selling point for TV coverage. They are much more sympathetic and appealing than say, for example, Herb Schultz, a senior adviser to the California governor and one of the six government officials who will be on the scene.

For those of you unfamiliar with PR drum-beating, the CIRM news advisory is the easiest part of the process. Phone calls will be made along with additional emails. Information specific to various areas will be fed to reporters and editors. Promises about exclusive interviews will be tendered. Whatever it takes. And that is as it should be if CIRM is going to make the most out of what it views as a critical round of grants that may have a lot to do with building support for its continued existence.

CIRM is barred from spending money out of state. Cash for the research in the UK and Canada will come from those countries, but the winning scientists have joined together in teams.

The news conference will be webcast at the following link:

It will not be live until shortly before 11 a.m. Reporters not on the scene will be able to email questions to the news conference. Sphere: Related Content

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