Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Rejected Grant Applicant Steps Up its Bid for Approval

The Childrens Hospital Oakland Research Institute has beefed up its effort to overturn the initial rejection of its bid for a multimillion dollar stem cell lab construction grant with a second letter that amounts to a "peer review" of the "peer review" of its plan.

The effort by the institute is believed to be the first such appeal by a rejected applicant, although CIRM refuses to confirm that. It also refused to release the letter, saying such an action would be inappropriate. Earlier today, we filed a formal request for the letter under California's public records law. Later, the letter came to us from a source that asked not to be identified (it was not the Oakland institute).

Both letters were sent Monday to all members of the CIRM Oversight Committee, which meets Wednesday to consider the scientific segment of the lab grant proposals.

Grants not approved on Wednesday and Thursday will be knocked out of the running for the second stage of the grant review, which will focus on the building plan. The current stage focuses on the science that is being proposed.

Last fall the CIRM Grants Working Group conducted a "peer review" of all 17 applications. The review was performed behind closed doors with scientists who did not disclose publicly their financial interests -- standard policy for CIRM. Twelve applicants were recommended for funding. Five were rejected, including Childrens Hospital, the University of California at Riverside and Cedars Sinai.

CIRM has identified the 12, in "violation" of its own policy of confidentiality on the names of applicants. UC Riverside and Cedars Sinai confirmed to the California Stem Cell Report that they were rejected. But they have not responded to questions about whether they are appealing the decisions.

The text of the Childrens letter is below.

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