Tuesday, April 29, 2014

California Stem Cell Agency Fires Up New Print/Online Endeavor

California's $3 billion stem cell research program this month launched the “Proceedings of the California Stem Cell Agency” in partnership with a scientific journal that it spawned in 2011.

The journal is Stem Cells Translational Medicine, which was initiated at the behest of the Golden State's stem cell agency. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine or CIRM, as the agency is known, subsidized the new journal for three years with $600,000 paid to AlphaMed of Durham, N.C. (See here, here, here and here.)

The move by the state agency came as reliance on traditional scientific journals for publication of research findings has encountered heavy criticism in recent years for wasting billions of dollars and costing lives.

Ellen Feigal, CIRM photo
Ellen Feigal, senior vice president for research and development for the California agency, and Natalie DeWitt, CIRM's special projects officer, wrote in the latest edition of the journal that the “Proceedings” would consist of a “monthly series (in the journal) of commentaries, articles, interviews, webinars, forums, and concise reviews on a wide range of topics in regenerative medicine.”

The agency executives said,
“Under our direction as series co-editors, the Proceedings will create a dynamic forum for the broad international community of scientists, policymakers, and stakeholders engaged in stem cell research.”

Natalie DeWitt, CIRM photo
The kickoff article dealt with the sharing of clinical trial data, which, Feigal and DeWitt wrote, is “a thorny issue that continues to spur worldwide debate and one for which the regenerative medicine community can shape the discussion at an early stage.”

They said,
“Forthcoming Proceedings will include articles such as policy and scientific considerations surrounding the creation of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) banks; the global regulatory environment for developing stem cell-based therapies; and reports from various focused workshops, such as on bottlenecks in research on Parkinson's disease and ocular disorders, as well as progress in research to generate blood and liver tissues.”

The Proceedings' first offering was authored by Feigal and DeWitt along with CIRM staffers Geoff Lomax and Maria Millan. It said that more information sharing would speed research among scientists but that sharing would need to be “de-risked” by developing standards that protect proprietary information.

The article also discussed, in two dense paragraphs, a need to provide some provide some sort of cash incentive for sharing data. The authors wrote,
“Consideration should be given to mechanisms for rewarding the deposit of data. For example, performance metrics for monetizing the deposit of high-quality data should be considered. Like an investigator's publication record, such a system could be weighted in peer review and progress reporting. Monetization should also be evaluated from the perspective of system quality and sustainability. If quality data can serve to reduce sponsor costs, then reasonable fees or royalties may be appropriate.

“Contract research organizations have ex tensive experience and expertise in data generation, analysis, and management, but funding constraints may not allow them to participate in data sharing. Again, reimbursement mechanisms may bridge this gap.”

The journal provides free online access to individuals but institutional subscriptions can exceed $1,000 a year.

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