Monday, February 06, 2012

Last Public Hearing in California for CIRM Performance Evaluation Scheduled for April

The blue-ribbon Institute of Medicine panel looking into the performance of the $3 billion California stem cell agency will hold its final public hearing within the state on April 10 at UC Irvine.

No details have yet have been posted online about the matters to be discussed or the witnesses to be heard. So far, the panel has not heard publicly from a single independent witness. The panel's final report and recommendations are scheduled to be released this fall, following its only remaining public meeting, scheduled for Washington, D.C.

The IOM has also posted a list of documents provided to the panel during a closed session last month in South San Francisco, its only public hearing in California so far. Virtually all of documents came from the CIRM itself, which is paying the IOM $700,000 for the study.

One exception was the 2009 report by California's good government agency, the Little Hoover Commission.

In its report, the commission concluded,
"CIRM’s governance structure is not adequate to protect taxpayers’ interests or serve its own ambitious goals."
The commission recommended a number of changes to strengthen CIRM's governance structure, improve accountability and reduce conflicts of interest. They included restructuring and reducing the size of the 29-member board and eliminating the controversial dual executive arrangement at CIRM.

CIRM strongly resisted nearly all of the recommendations, some of which would have required legislative or voter approval. As of last week, the IOM panel had not contacted the Little Hoover Commission for testimony.

(Click on the "closed session summary" at this location to find the information about the documents that were provided.)

The IOM also has posted a list of topics discussed by its panel in closed session last month. They included a follow-up on bias and conflicts of interest, committee composition, discussion of the previous day's hearing and discussion of data needs.

The April meeting is being held at the Beckman Center at UC Irvine, which has received $77 million from CIRM. The agency's board of directors includes two top academicians from UC Irvine: Oswald Steward, who serves on the board as a patient advocate and is director of the Reeve-Irvine Research Center for Spinal Cord Injury, and Susan Bryant, associate executive vice chancellor for research at Irvine and who serves on the CIRM board as in her capacity as an executive officer from a UC campus with a medical school.

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