“There were some conflicts of interest with the genomics review but apparently there is a bug in our data system, which is why they aren't showing up. We're going to fix that so thanks for bringing it to our attention.”
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
$40 Million California Genomics Award: Missing Names of Conflicted Reviewers Disclosed
When the governing board of the California stem cell agency last month considered proposals for a $40 million genomics stem cell center, it failed to disclose the names of the grant reviewers who were barred from reviewing the applications because of conflicts of interest.
Normally, the names are reported to the public when the $3 billion agency posts summaries of the reviews of applications – prior to consideration of the proposals by the agency's board.
The departure from the agency's normal grant-making procedures is not the first in the genomics round, which is the subject of an internal examination by the agency that includes the board's outside counsel, James Harrison of Remcho Johansen and Purcell of San Leandro, Ca. Allegations of conflicts of interest and complaints about the role of CIRM President Alan Trounson, score manipulation, irregularities and unfairness have been raised.
It is unlikely that the normal disclosure of conflicted reviewers' names would have affected the outcome of the genomic awards at the governing board meeting Jan. 29. However, if questions had been raised at the public board meeting about the absence of the names, concerns about the closed-door review process may well have been elevated, given the earlier conflict-of-interest violation involving reviewer Lee Hood.
The names of the reviewers with conflicts were added to the review summaries this week following an inquiry Monday by the California Stem Cell Report, which sought to double-check the apparent fact that no reviewers were in conflict since none were listed as recused.
Kevin McCormack, senior director for communications for the agency, replied,
Here are the names of the reviewers now listed on the CIRM review summaries as being recused and the four applications involved. The four were recommended for funding by reviewers.
Stanford-Salk's winning application, Richard Gibbs, Maynard Olson; UCLA, Bradley Bernstein, Richard Gibbs, Aarno Palotie, Barry Rosen; Scripps-Illumina, Maynard Olson, Martin Pera, Jared Roach; UC San Francisco–UC Berkeley, none.