Friday, December 07, 2012

More IOM-CIRM Coverage: One Story Notes Major 2007 Conflict Flaps at Stem Cell Agency

Additional coverage emerged this morning, including stories in the Los Angeles Times, the Nature web site and Businessweek. on a blue-ribbon report that recommended sweeping changes at the the $3 billion California stem cell agency

In the Times, California's largest circulation newspaper, Eryn Brown's story was headlined,
"Stem cell agency board criticized for conflicts of interest."
The article began,
"The board of California's stem cell funding agency is rife with conflicts of interest and should be restructured to improve the integrity of its grant-making process, according to a new report from independent experts convened by the national Institute of Medicine."“
In the San Diego U-T, reporter Bradley Fikes' article was the only piece in all the coverage to mention two major conflict-of-interest flaps at the agency in 2007.

One involved then CIRM board member John Reed, head of Sanford-Burnham in La Jolla, who tried to influence CIRM staff in connection with a grant to his organization, triggering an investigation by the state's political ethics commission. (Reed's actions were first disclosed by the California Stem Cell Report.) The other case involved inappropriate actions by four members of the 29-member board in an $85 million round. Ten applications were dumped from the round because of the directors' actions. The conflict issues were so rampant that only eight of the directors present at a December 2007 meeting could discuss the issues.
(See here, here and here.)

On the Nature news blog, Monya Baker had a thorough piece that said the agency “received a mixture of praise and hard-to-enact recommendations from an august scientific body.” She also wrote,
“It’s unclear what effect the report will have. Many of these recommendations run counter to requirements enshrined in the legislation that created CIRM, and the board of CIRM has heard similar recommendations before and failed to act on them.”
On the web site of the journal Science, Greg Miller wrote that IOM report "praises the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) as a 'bold social innovation' that provided a creative new source of funding that has turned the state into an international hub of stem cell research. But the IOM panel authoring the report also concluded that the funding agency’s organization and governance is not optimal."

Businessweek carried the AP story by Alicia Chang mentioned yesterday. The AP story also appeared on the San Francisco Chronicle and Sacramento Bee web sites and was also carried internationally on other web sites.  The Chronicle also had a staff story by Erin Allday.  
(An earlier version of this item did not contain the last sentence regarding the Allday story.)

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