Tuesday, October 08, 2013

New Grant Reviewers for California Stem Cell Agency

Five new scientific grant reviewers are expected to be approved tomorrow by directors of the California stem cell agency, and at least four have backgrounds that might make them judges in the upcoming $40 million stem cell genomics round.

They include one scientist who once held $7.4 million in grants from the California stem cell agency. He is Martin Pera of the University of Melbourne in Australia. Pera was the first head of the USC stem cell program, serving from 2006 to 2011. The program was launched in the wake of the passage of Prop. 71, which created California's $3 billion stem cell program.

According to the University of Melbourne, Pera has done a significant amount of research in the area of cytogentics and genome mapping.

Scientific grant reviewers for CIRM all come from out-of-state. Pera is likely the first former CIRM grant recipient to be selected as one of the reviewers who make 98 percent of the decisions on the agency's grant applications. None are required to disclose publicly their financial or professional interests.

Other proposed scientific reviewers include:
Bradley Bernstein of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard, who is co-director of the epigenomics program at the Broad Institute.

Richard Gibbs, director of the human genome sequencing center at the Baylor College of Medicine.

Barry Rosen of the Wellcome Trust in the United Kingdom, who has done work in genetics and genome engineering.

Steven Jon Russell of the Harvard Medical School, who works in diabetes and completed the first outpatient trial of a treatment device described as a closed-loop artificial pancreas blood glucose control system.

Others being reappointed are Shelly Heimfeld of Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Ihor Lemischka of Mount Sinai and Thomas Zwaka, also of Baylor.

The CIRM staff document prepared for tomorrow's meeting contains additional information on all the scientists.

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