Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Looking Closely at CIRM's Disclosure Rules

Are CIRM's disclosure rules for its grant reviewers good enough? Robert M. Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles, found some weaknesses. Keep in mind that the only disclosure the reviewers make is basically to CIRM itself – not the public, which Stern believes is necessary once the agency clarifies some of its rules. You can find the text of the rules here.

Here is what Stern told the California Stem Cell Report:
"The CIRM requirements are too broad and too vague, and I would not make their disclosures public until they are made more specific. Some examples: what is a 'common financial interest' and what is a 'financial benefit of any amount?' They are not defined.

"Are former students for all-time considered professional associates? There needs to be a time period.

"What is the distinction between 'long-standing personal differences' and 'long-standing scientific differences or disagreements?'

"These are examples of terms that are very subjective and thus difficult to understand and comply with.

"Perhaps other agencies in other states or at the federal level have used these terms and have interpreted them. If so, it would be helpful to have their guidance.

"One further point, if these terms are interpreted in advice letters or
regulations, are the interpretations and advice letters public?"

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