Wednesday, December 12, 2012

LA Times: On the California Stem Cell Agency and Wasting $700,000

The headline on the Los Angeles Times web site this afternoon read,
"Is California's stem cell program preparing to waste $700,000?"
The question was raised by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Michael Hiltzikwhowas commenting on the presentation today by the prestigious Institute of Medicine's (IOM) on its sweeping recommendations for changes at the state stem cell agency. 

Hiltzik wrote, 
"If you're betting that the California stem cell agency will spurn key recommendations of a blue-ribbon review panel that criticized its leadership and management structures, you might want to double that bet. Several board members showed overt hostility to the panel's recommendations during a public meeting today."
Harold Shapiro, chairman of the IOM panel and former president of Princeton University, delivered the briefing. The group's study took 17 months and cost the stem cell agency $700,000.

Hiltzik's piece summarized the IOM proposals, which echoed many criticisms that have been aired for years in California.  Hiltzik wrote, 
"CIRM Chairman Jonathan Thomas glided over those issues when he introduced Shapiro. Thomas observed that the Institute of Medicine report included many statements "validating CIRM, its process, what it was able to achieve," which is a bit like launching the investigation of a plane crash by focusing on all the planes that land safely every day. Thomas did mention that the Institute of Medicine had made numerous recommendation about how to "take something which is already a great experience and improve it even further." 
"Shapiro got only a few minutes into his presentation before board members started interrupting him with objections to the Institute of Medicine's recommendation for a majority of independent members."
Hiltzik concluded, 
"Thomas promised to stage a public workshop on the Institute of Medicine report soon and to subject them to 'lengthy discussion.' 
"Does that sound as if the board will be taking seriously the advice that it change the way it does business? Stay tuned, but don't hold your breath."

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