Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fallout From Disclosure of the CIRM 18

Alan Trounson, president of the California stem cell agency, has sent a letter concerning disclosure of the names of 18 companies who expressed an interest in applying for grants from the $3 billion research program.

Trounson wrote the letter to the companies after Consumer Watchdog revealed the names that CIRM had attempted to keep confidential as part of its pseudo policy of secrecy. Pseudo because CIRM chooses to keep some names secret and reveal others. And many of its public grant review summaries contain enough information that any reasonably well-informed person can determine the identity of the applicant should he or she want to make the effort.

In his letter, Trounson expressed regret about the disclosure and said that CIRM has issued a "reminder" concerning its confidentiality policies.

John M. Simpson, stem cell project director for Consumer Watchdog, published a copy of Trounson's letter on Tuesday. Simpson commented:
"From what I've heard, representatives of companies on the list are talking with each other about why it was only one of the 18 companies, Novocell, received an award. They're comparing notes about the grant review process and how they feel it was biased against for-profit entities.

"There's a good chance they will work together as a group and take their concerns to the stem cell oversight committee, possibly as early as its September meeting.

"See what happens when a little light shines in?"

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