Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Devising a Plan for a Multi-Billion Dollar Project: The CIRM Approach

If you are interested in how the California stem cell agency plans to give away $3 billion, check out the agency's Web page on its strategic planning activities.

It is a useful step in the process with information ranging from meeting schedules to biographies of some of the important players.

One of the more interesting items is a summary of a meeting earlier this month by the Strategic Planning Advisory Committee. It itemizes ideas that were broached at the session, ranging from cord blood research to the harvesting of tissue from cadavers. The ideas are just that; the agency cautions that none are endorsed at this stage by CIRM. Nonetheless they provide some idea of what is being seriously discussed.

The document also indicates some concern about CIRM's outreach to researchers. For example, it said,
"CIRM needs to find more aggressive ways to engage and inform scientists about stem cell funding opportunities than sending out grant requests through the CIRM web site or the standard Request for Application (RFA) process. A newsletter might be a one way to accomplish this; to keep the 'buzz' alive and to distribute information."
The Internet postings on strategic planning are a good start on the buzz. One of the notices announces a daylong conference at Caltech on Thursday. The topic is "Funding Structures to Advance Stem Cell Research and Therapy."

Here are the speakers and topics: Michael Rudnicki, M.D., Ph.D., University of Ottawa, Canada, the Canadian stem cell network; Michael Amos, Ph.D., National Institute of Science and Technology, The Advanced Technology Program: Innovative Technology Solutions Through Industry-led Public-Private Partnerships; Ethan Signer, Ph.D., High Q Foundation, Managing the Search for Huntington Disease Therapy; Richard Insel, M.D., Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation,Research Strategy and Funding Programs of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and Jonathan Shestack, Cure Autism Now Foundation, who is also a member of the CIRM Oversight Committee, no topic announced.

The calendar also shows that the Strategic Planning Advisory Committee will meet in San Francisco next Monday at noon. Included will be a report on the Caltech session as well as discussion of funding mechanisms for the private sector and whether new ESC lines should be a focus for early funding.

Another strategic planning meeting involving the CIRM Oversight Committee will come the evening of June 1 in La Jolla. The panel is scheduled to act on a proposed mission statement and objectives.

It is not too early to think about a daylong meeting on July 13 in San Francisco on the topic of "The Scientific Challenge: From Basic Science to the Clinic." Confirmed speakers are: Stuart Orkin, M.D., Harvard Medical School; Joan Samuelson, Esq., Parkinson’s Action Network and a member of the CIRM Oversight Committee, and Allen M. Spiegel, M.D., Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

CIRM also provides an email address for those who want to comment on the plan or make suggestions: scientificstratplan@cirm.ca.gov. Sphere: Related Content

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