“We are in the business of trying to save people’s lives….We have to behave with the appropriate sense of urgency.”
CIRM directors from nonprofit institutions vigorously balked at a 10 percent cap on indirect costs in the awards. The indirect funds go to the institution and not for research. Some of the indirect rates currently run as high as 20 percent of the total award and are much valued by California research institutions, most of whom have members on the CIRM board of directors.
Director Donna Weston, chief financial officer of the financially troubled Scripps Institute, led the move against the 10 percent cap. Others indicated that researchers at some nonprofits would not be allowed to apply for grants that only contained a 10 percent rate. As result, the board agreed on a 10 percent cap on indirect costs for businesses and 20 percent on nonprofits.
No opposition was heard online during what appeared to be a unanimous vote. The California Stem Cell Report queried CIRM about whether it is a legal conflict of interest for directors from nonprofit institutions to vote on the indirect cost change that would benefit their institutions.
James Harrison, general counsel to the board, replied,
"No, it is a standard, so it is exempt."