Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Thomas' IOM Plan Receiving Generally Positive Response

So far,  many of the directors of the $3 billion California stem cell agency today seem to be endorsing the plan proposed by Chairman J.T. Thomas to meet the sweeping recommendations by  the Institute of Medicine.

Several members stressed the need to remove the perception of conflicts of interest on the board, as identified by Institute of Medicine and other studies of the stem cell agency.  Concerns about conflicts of interest go back as far as the election in 2004 when the plan to create the stem cell agency was presented to the voters of California.

Director Sherry Lansing, who is chair of the UC Board of Regents, said "we can't fight" the perceptions any more. She said the board needed to move forward and control its own destiny instead of having to deal with possible legislative changes. Continued perception issues "will harm our work," she said.

However, a couple of other members expressed some dissent.

Among other things, Thomas' plan would require 13 members of the board not to vote on individual grants, although they could take part in debate on them. The 13 are members who are linked to institutions that are likely recipients of CIRM awards. All of the changes proposed by Thomas could be done without legislative action, he said. Thomas also said that chairman of the IOM study panel endorsed his plan, saying it would serve the best interests of the people of California.

According to compilations by the California Stem Cell Report, about 90 percent of the $1.7 billion awarded by CIRM has gone to institutions with ties to members of the CIRM board.

Here is a link to the Power Point presentation of Thomas' plan.

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