Wednesday, April 04, 2012

IOM Performance Review of California Stem Cell Agency Expands Its Reach

A blue-ribbon Institute of Medicine panel is broadening its reach in its examination of the performance of the $3 billion California stem cell agency.

The group will hold a one-day public hearing next Tuesday at UC Irvine that will include independent perspectives along with comments from biotech firms, some of which have been unhappy with the paucity of CIRM funding for industry. The IOM has additionally expanded its efforts to generate responses to its questionnaires to include rejected applicants and the general public.

The hearing is the last public session scheduled in California and will be audiocast on the Internet. The IOM's fourth and final public session is scheduled for some time later this year with release of the full report in November. The stem cell agency is paying the IOM $700,000 to conduct the study. The public sessions so far have been taken up with testimony from recipients of CIRM largesse or from employees or directors of the agency.

The list of independent witnesses next week includes Stuart Drown, executive director of the state's good government agency, the Little Hoover Commission, which conducted a lengthy study of the stem cell agency. Also on tap are others including:
  • Ruth Holton-Hodson, California deputy state controller, and who deals with CIRM issues for the state controller, who chairs the only state body officially charged with overseeing the agency.
  • Marcy Darnovsky, associate executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society in Berkeley, an organization that has been critical of CIRM
  • David Jensen, publisher of the California Stem Cell Report, which has posted more than 3,000 items on the agency since 2004 in addition to a number of freelance articles. 
The IOM has widened its efforts to secure comments from persons who cannot appear at its hearings. At the IOM's request, CIRM sent emails about the questionnaires to the 4,039 persons who have asked the agency to be notified about its RFAs. Recipients were asked by CIRM to complete the IOM surveys.

The online forms are due by April 23. Here are links in the various categories:  general publicCIRM investigators,CIRM industry partnersleadership from CIRM-funded institutionstechnology transfer professionals,CIRM's international collaboratorsmembers of the Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee (the CIRM governing board), and investigators not funded by CIRM.

The IOM said access to the Internet audiocast of the meeting can be gained on April 10 through this web page.

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