Monday, November 30, 2009

Coming Up at CIRM: Grant Triage and More Cash for Training, Translational Research

Directors of the California stem cell agency will meet Dec. 9-10 to consider a pay increase for one of its two vice chairmen and to give away more money for training at state and community colleges.

The agenda for the meeting at Stanford University was posted yesterday on the CIRM Web site. As usual, only the sketchiest information is currently available on the matters to be considered, but more is expected to posted over the next few days.

CIRM did not specify the amount of the increase proposed for Art Torres, who has served as a vice chairman for eight months. Currently he receives a $75,000 salary for what is supposed to be a half-time job. Our impression, however, is that he putting in considerably more effort than that.

Torres, former head of the state Democratic Party and longtime state legislator, brings to the board political know-how and connections along with state government expertise that are found nowhere else at CIRM.

Duane Roth
, a San Diego businessman, is the other CIRM vice chairman. He has declined a salary.

The board is expected to act on additional grants in the “Bridges” training program. The board last January put off funding some applications in the so-called tier two category because of CIRM's financial difficulties, which are now resolved through June 2011.

Grant applicants may be interested in an item dealing with conflict of interest appeals on applications. The board is scheduled to make an unspecified “correction” concerning such appeals.

Of special interest to applicants is a CIRM staff recommendation to continue the triage or pre-application process on grants. The procedure was used on the disease team round and involves initial staff and outside reviewer screening of brief grant proposals. Only those applicants who make that cut may apply for grants.

Also on tap is approval of a round of “early translational” grants and creation of a board of directors “Subcommittee on Communications with the California Public” and a “Task Force on Public Media.” The task force would be derived from the communications subcommittee.

If you have comments for the directors on these proposals, you can send them directly to CIRM at If you would like to comment on them for the benefit of readers of the California Stem Cell Report, you may do so by clicking on the word “comments” at the end of this item. Anonymous comments are permitted.

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