Saturday, January 05, 2008

CIRM Directors Meet to Mull More Faculty Awards, Mega Millions for Labs

Coming up in the middle of this month is the $263 million California stem cell lab construction bonanza, but some other items are also up for consideration by directors of the state's stem cell agency.

CIRM has posted the agenda for the two-day session beginning Jan. 16. Besides the largest round of grants in CIRM history, the Oversight Committee is scheduled to take up a proposal to "make whole" -- sort of -- the 10 scientists who suffered as a result of breaches of CIRM's conflict of interest policy by the deans of their medical schools.

No details are yet available on the posted agenda, but CIRM plans to offer a new round of faculty award grants. Initial discussions indicated that it would be open to all (with qualifications)– not just the those who were dumped from last month's $54 million round.

Also on the agenda are compensation changes, travel policy and new plans for conferences and meetings. Some of those will mean increased spending, although no details are yet available on the CIRM website.

As for the "Mega Millions Jackpot" – whoops, that is another California state program -- for lab construction, if CIRM holds to past practice, sometime between now and Jan. 16, we should see the postings on the public summaries of the grant reviews for 12 institutions that were anointed earlier. Given the complexity of the proposals and staff turnover at CIRM, we would expect to see the summaries later rather than earlier, which would make it difficult for the public or other interested parties to review them and prepare comments for the Oversight Committee meeting.

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