“The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the stem cell funding agency that state voters approved in 2004, has been an 'innovative initiative' that's strengthened California's biotechnology industry and furthered the cause of basic stem cell research, according to a new independent review by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). But the agency needs to make some major structural changes in order to avoid conflicts of interest and retain its credibility with the public, and it needs to do so sooner rather than later.”
“The institute also needs to respond to the criticisms in the report, and to do so as quickly as possible. In particular, the institute needs to reform its management if it's to continue its mission after state funding runs out, as it appears the institute's chairman would like to do. Its governing board is too involved in day-to-day management. Nearly all the 29 members of that same board are on the payroll of institutions that have won grants - a serious conflict of interest.”
“At the risk of being too cynical, it seems to me that those who expect the agency to implement the proposals are being more than a bit naïve. The proposals amount to asking people to commit suicide. Those presently involved have too much self-interest at stake to voluntarily drop out. Some kind of pressure will have to be applied.”
“I worry that CIRM (governing board) will once again circle the wagons and construct elaborate excuses for inaction and preserving the status quo. It's really terrible because you could make incredible advances if only the energy and dollars were directed properly.”
The Bee has yet to editorialize directly on the IOM report.