Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Conflict of Interest: Text of CIRM and Sladek Comments

Here are the verbatim statements from James Harrison, outside counsel to the California stem cell agency, and John Sladek concerning Sladek's conflict of interest and resignation as chair of the agency's grant review group.

Harrison made these initial remarks first and provided a few other details later.
"While preparing the public summary for Basic Biology III (grant round)applications, CIRM staff discovered that Dr. John Sladek was one of several co-authors on scientific publications with a researcher who was listed as a consultant on a CIRM grant application.
"This is a technical violation of CIRM's conflict of interest rules, which prohibit a member of the Grants Working Group ("GWG") from participating in the review of an application if the member has co-authored papers with a salaried investigator listed on a CIRM application within a three year window.

"It should be noted, however, that Dr. Sladek's participation in the review of the application would not have constituted a conflict of interest under the Political Reform Act's conflict of interest standards because Dr. Sladek did not have a financial interest in the application. In addition, the amount of funding involved - approximately $3,000 of salary per year for three years, less than one percent of the total award - was not material, and Dr. Sladek did not stand to receive any financial benefit from the application. Finally, Dr. Sladek's participation in the review did not affect the outcome because the application was not recommended, or approved, for funding.

"Nonetheless, in the spirit of setting an example of strict compliance, Dr. Sladek tendered his resignation from the GWG."
Sladek's response to a question for comment:
"Mr. Harrison’s account  is accurate and there really isn’t anything to add other than I was pleased to serve CIRM and California  for several years and wish them well as they pursue such an important mission with respect to the potential for therapeutic applications to human disease and disorders. Thank you for your inquiry."

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