Friday, January 30, 2015

Winners Revealed for $30 Million in California Stem Cell Awards

The California stem cell agency today revealed the identities of the winners of $30 million in awards aimed at removing bottlenecks in stem cell research.

The 20 names were added to the news release posted yesterday afternoon on the agency’s Web site. All the recipients work at institutions that have representatives on the agency’s governing board. Those representatives are not allowed to vote on the applications from their institutions, but they set the rules for and the scope of the research that is being funded.

Today’s posting of the names is a departure from past practices. Previously the agency would release the names on the day when the agency board approved the grants. Yesterday, the agency moved quickly to publish the main body of the news release on the action, minus the names.

The list contains the number of each application, but without a link to the summary of reviewer comments on the proposals.  The reviewer comments cannot be found by searching on the application number on the CIRM Web site.

Instead, a search on application numbers on the CIRM Web site will turn up only an abstract and statement of public benefit prepared by the researcher.

The review summary, which contains more details and something of a critique, can only be found in a 162-page, omnibus document given to board members and posted on the meeting agenda. It encompasses all the application review summaries along with scores and staff comments.  That document, which is much more valuable to the public and the scientific community than the abstract and benefit statement, can be found here.  

(Editor's note: Following publication of this item, Kevin McCormack, senior director of communications for CIRM, sent the following concerning the statement that representatives of institutions receiving awards are not allowed to vote on applications from their institutions.

("That's not quite right. In fact, it's not right at all. Representatives of institutions are not allowed to vote on any applications at all, not just those that involve their own institutions. They can't vote on any funding or award.")
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