Sunday, January 27, 2013

IOM's Shapiro Wants to See More Changes from California Stem Cell Agency

Additional mainstream media news coverage surfaced last Friday involving the California stem cell agency's response to the blue-ribbon report from the Institute of Medicine(IOM), whose concerns about the agency ranged from conflicts of interest to grant appeals by rejected researchers.

One of the more interesting pieces was done by Stephanie O'Neill of Los Angeles radio station KPCC. To her credit, she contacted the chairman of the IOM panel, Harold Shapiro, for his fresh take on what the stem cell agency's board did on Wednesday.

His comments were somewhat different than those read Wednesday at the CIRM board meeting. On Friday, Shapiro was quoted as saying the board action was “an important first step forward,” but he added a caveat. O'Neill wrote,
“'I’m encouraged by this,' Shapiro told KPCC. 'Presumably in the future they’ll take other steps. But these are steps they could take without any legislative approval and …I think it does respond in a pretty significant way to the spirit of the report.'
“But Shapiro expressed concern that the agency is making only 'small moves' to address a recommendation that CIRM separate operations from oversight. Currently, the ICOC functions 'both as an executor and as an overseer—competing duties that compromise the ICOC’s critical role of providing independent oversight and strategic direction,' according to the December IOM report.
“'But  I do understand… that would be a move that they would have to take over time so we’ll have to wait and see,' Shapiro said.
“Thomas agreed and said that while CIRMs recommendations more clearly define the roles of chairman and president, more refinements will be likely over time.”
From the Los Angeles Times, came a piece from Eryn Brown. Her article was brief and she referred her readers to the California Stem Cell Report for details. Her first paragraph said,
“Changes may be on the way at California’s stem cell funding agency.”
In coverage outside the mainstream media, the Burrill Report carried an article by Daniel Levine. The Burrill Report is produced by Burrill & Co., a San Francisco life sciences financial firm. Levine's straight-forward account was largely based on the CIRM press release and the IOM report.

Two bloggers surfaced with some coverage. UC Davis stem cell researcher Paul Knoepfler, who is a CIRM grantee, called the Thomas plan a “bold one-year experiment” and “biggest development for CIRM in many years.” Knoepfler said,
“I’m still not sure I’m a fan of all of the proposed changes, but I would say the plan is bold and creative.”
On livingbiology.com, an unidentified CIRM grantee carried a few brief items live from the meeting.
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