Thursday, January 13, 2011

Three Bidders Seek California State Funds for Online Stem Cell Journal

The California stem cell agency is about ready to jump into the publishing business.

The $3 billion, taxpayer-financed enterprise on Monday received three responses to its proposal to spend $600,000 over the next three years to start a new, online stem cell research journal. The enterprises seeking the seed money are AlphaMed Press of Durham, N.C., the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) of Deerfield, Ill., and the information conglomerate Elsevier, which is based in Amsterdam.

CIRM wants to kick off a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal to accelerate “the entire field as knowledge is aggregated and shared more readily” and encourage collaboration between stem cell biologists, clinicians and engineers, according to CIRM's plan. (See the RFP below and CIRM President Alan Trounson's proposal here.)

The journal would focus on translational aspects of stem cell science, stem cell-based regenerative medicine and tissue engineering, stem cell-based predictive toxicology and cancer stem cell investigation. The journal would be independent of CIRM but the agency would, “with agreement from the editors,” provide “periodic short articles on translational stem cell research.”

The CIRM seed money would amount to $200,000 a year for three years with the journal becoming self-sustaining at the end of the period. Preference will go to publishers "committed to California-based editorial offices." The award date is scheduled for Jan. 24.

Of the three bidders, the ISSCR seems to have the least publishing experience. It is an international organization of stem cell scientists. The ISSCR web site does not list any publications other than the organization's newsletter. CIRM sponsored its convention last year in San Francisco. Trounson served on its board of directors in 2008.

AlphaMed publishes Stem Cells, which it says “is the oldest journal in the fast-paced area of stem cells and regenerative medicine." The organization added, "Not only is it the first journal to be devoted to this promising research, it remains at the top tier of peer-reviewed monthly journals for this discipline.” Trounson sits on Stem Cells' editorial board.

Elsevier touts “a global community of 7,000 journal editors, 70,000 editorial board members, 300,000 reviewers and 600,000 authors.” It has a publishing tradition that stretches back to 1580 and has been embroiled in the controversy concerning the debate over open access to the research in its publications.

Elsevier publishes Cell Stem Cell and Stem Cell Research, whose editorial board also includes Trounson.

The Public Library of Science, whose international headquarters are within walking distance of CIRM in San Francisco, did not submit a bid. The organization is “a nonprofit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a public resource.” It has a roster of publications ranging from biology to neglected tropical diseases.

We have asked CIRM for copies of the bids submitted by the three groups. We will bring them to you when we receive them.

Here is the CIRM RFP.CIRM RFP for Online Stem Cell Journal

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