Wednesday, January 29, 2014

California Stem Cell Agency Withholds Key Information in $40 Million Genomics Proposals

The California stem cell agency has declined to disclose publicly a critical criteria – the amount of matching funds offered by each applicant -- in its ambitious $40 million genomics round scheduled to be acted on later today.

A spokesman for the $3 billion state agency yesterday said the figures were not a public record. However, the agency has public revealed such figures in the past.

The matching funds played a major role in the top ranking of a $33 million genomics proposal by a Stanford-led consortium. Lack of matching funds also was deemed a serious problem by the agency's grant reviewers, who operate behind closed doors, in an application led by the Scripps Research Institute.

When asked for the figures, Kevin McCormack, senior director for public communications, said,
 “That is proprietary information, and so it's not available.”
He has not yet responded a follow-up question about the rationale for cloaking such figures in secrecy that goes beyond the simple assertion that they are proprietary. Generally, proprietary information is considered to be trade secrets or involve intellectual property or unique business methods.

Financing is commonly disclosed by businesses and is even required by federal law when a company is publicly traded.  

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