Thursday, January 24, 2013

California Stem Cell Agency to Pitch Newspaper Editorial Boards

The California stem cell agency is planning an editorial road show with major California newspapers to explain its new plan to deal with the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine(IOM) for major changes at the agency.

In what might be called the kickoff to the campaign, the agency this afternoon issued a press release hailing the plan as making “dramatic changes.”

The agency could have a tough audience. The newspapers editorializing on the subject were unanimously in favor of the IOM recommendations. One said the agency needs to clean up its act. They warned of a loss of public trust along with losing the possibility of continued financial support. (For a sample, see here and here.)

CIRM Chairman J.T. Thomas said during today's meeting that a public relations foray was in the works following board action on his proposals yesterday. He said,
“The opportunity is ripe.”
His comments came after CIRM Director Jeff Sheehy, a UCSF communications manager, urged engaging the editorial boards.

Thomas' plan meets only a portion of the IOM recommendations and sidestepped a call for creating a new majority on the board of independent members. The IOM said “far too many” board members – at least 13 – are tied to institutions that receive money from CIRM. Thomas' plan would have the 13 voluntarily restrain from voting on any grants for any institution.

A compilation by the California Stem Cell Report shows that roughly 90 percent of the $1.7 billion awarded by directors has gone to institutions with links to the directors.  

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