Wednesday, December 24, 2008

CIRM Begins Application Triage Experiment

The California stem cell agency is moving forward on its plan to perform closed-door, staff-connected triage on grant proposals before they move into the peer review process.

John M. Simpson, stem cell project director of Consumer Watchdog of Santa Monica, Ca., reported on the action by CIRM directors on Tuesday. But he suggests an alternative that could serve CIRM's desire to reduce the number of applications on some grant rounds. Just open up the grant application process so that the public would know who is applying and hear the pros and cons on the applications.

Writing on his organization's blog, he said,
"It's our $3 billion that's being handed out. If you want our money, you ought to be willing to ask for it in public. Nothing builds more trust in a review process than having it completely transparent."
Simpson reported that Tuesday's special, teleconference board meeting failed to muster a quorum despite an attempt to set up multiple out-of-state locations for the convenience of traveling board members. Only 15 checked in. Nineteen are needed for a quorum. The full board has 29 members.

Failure to attain a quorum meant no action on the request by the International Society of Stem Cell Research for $400,000 to help finance its $1.5 million convention in San Francisco in 2010. It was the second time the board has failed to act on the request.

Here is a link to CIRM's four-page explanation of the triage proposal. The process will be applied in the $60 million basic biology round. The RFA should be posted before the end of this year with the "pre-applications" due towards the end of January.

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