Thursday, December 06, 2012

Coverage of the IOM Report: Light but a Column with a Cutting Edge

News coverage has been light so far today of the Institute of Medicine's recommendations for an overhaul at the $3 billion California stem cell agency. But a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist from the Los Angeles Times took a sharp knife to the agency's press release on the IOM report.

Michael Hiltzik, who is a regular critic of the agency, asked,
 "So how did CIRM react to the report? Even before the review panel's conference call with the press was completed, the agency issued a news release stating that the panel had 'praised' the agency 'for its ground breaking work in helping advance the science of stem cell research.'"If you wanted to know about the committee's criticisms, the first mention of those was in paragraph 9 of the news release. It quoted board Chairman Jonathan Thomas as promising to 'work on establishing a process to enable us to consider how best to proceed with reviewing the recommendations.' 
"By my count, that's seven steps it will take before actually acting on the recommendations. 
"As it happens, the panel's recommendations, which include creating a majority of independent board members without any potential conflicts of interest, track very closely to recommendations made by several previous outside reviews of CIRM, especially a 2009 study by the state's Little Hoover Commission.
"CIRM rejected almost every one, and it looks to be preparing to circle the wagons again against sensible improvements in the way it does business."
The Associated Press story by Alicia Chang popped up in two different forms on the Washington Post web site and in Ottowa and Spokane, among other places. Chang was on board for the IOM news conference and had this to say about CIRM from one of the IOM study group members.
“'They’re not broken but they’re bent,' said Sharon Terry, president of the nonprofit Genetic Alliance who was part of the panel. 'They need some correction.'”
Chang's story originally began,
“California has transformed into a powerhouse player in stem cell research, but the taxpayer-funded institute responsible for that needs an overhaul, a report released Thursday found.”
Another version, that appeared in Ottowa and Spokane and beyond, started this way,
“A report says California’s stem cell agency needs more independent oversight and recommends a restructuring to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest.”

Ron Leuty of the San Francisco Business, who is one of perhaps two reporters who regularly cover the stem cell agency, wrote,
“A review of California's stem cell research funding agency proposed changes to the agency's governing structure and commercial goals while praising its results so far. The 124-page report from the Institute of Medicine recycles many conflict of interest and intellectual property concerns that have dogged the San Francisco-based” agency.
Stephanie O'Neill at KPCC radio in Los Angeles also had a story.
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