Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Read Reviewer Remarks on 45 Applications for California Stem Cell Grants

To its credit, the California stem cell agency yesterday posted a timely link to summaries of the scientific reviews of applications for funding to the tune of roughly $30 million.

The reviews include positive decisions by reviewers on 16 grants dealing with stem cell immunology, which are certain to be ratified by directors at their meeting next Tuesday in San Diego.

We have been critical of CIRM's failure to provide background information on important matters to be considered at its public meetings. In this case, the material came five days in advance of date when it is to be discussed and acted on.

Look for more information concerning the rejected grants later this week or early next. It is likely that some researchers will file “extraordinary petitions” seeking to overturn negative findings by the CIRM grant review group. Those petitions can filed up to five days before the board meeting. CIRM President Alan Trounson and his staff then make a decision on whether the appeal has merit.

Grant applicants are not identified until after the CIRM board takes action, and then only on winning researchers. Information contained in the reviews, however, includes the scientific score of approved grants and summaries of reviewer remarks, such as this on a rejected grant:
“Given the team's lack of progress on basic questions related to the T59 approach over the past several years, there is concern regarding the team's ability to provide new and important information with the proposed experiments in this application.”
Or this on a grant with the top score(87 out of 100):
“The reviewers considered the principal investigator (PI) to be exceedingly well qualified to direct the proposed research. The juxtaposition of his/her hematology and immunology expertise with the co-investigator's knowledge and experience in stem cell biology was viewed as a unique and noteworthy asset that significantly enhances the potential for success.”
Any researcher seeking cash from CIRM would do well to read all 45 reviews in order to understand better what is likely to gain approval.

CIRM's board meeting begins in four business days. But still missing from the agenda is a host of additional necessary background information. That includes the proposed spending plan for CIRM for the next fiscal year, which begins at the end of this month. The budget documents were delivered to CIRM Chairman Robert Klein, who controls the board agenda, on June 7 but were apparently not up to snuff.

In response to a query about the delay in posting, CIRM spokesman Don Gibbons said the budget is being revised. Also missing is information dealing with the agency's “strategic financial projections.”

For those who want to listen in on the meeting, the agenda now contains instructions on how to do that on the Internet. Sphere: Related Content

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