Saturday, February 15, 2014

Board Counsel at California Stem Cell Agency Engaged in Examination of $40 Million Genomics Award

The California stem cell agency yesterday confirmed that the counsel to its governing board, James Harrison, is involved in the examination of its $40 million genomics round, which has been criticized for irregularities, unfairness,score manipulation and the role of its president, Alan Trounson.

Harrison has been with the board since its inception and wrote parts of Proposition 71, the ballot initiative that created the $3 billion research effort in 2004. Harrison, who is a partner in the Remcho Johansen & Purcell law firm of San Leandro, Ca., also has expertise in conflicts of interest and ethics. He is on contract with the agency and is not an employee.

In response to a question Feb. 8, asking whether Harrison was looking into the grant review process in the genomics round, Kevin McCormack, senior director for communications, confirmed that the agency was examining how the applications were handled. However, he did not reply directly to the question of whether Harrison was involved in the inquiry.

After being asked again yesterday, McCormack said,

“As you know after every review we go back to see what we could have done better and that usually involves several staff members at the agency, including James, who look at what happened and try to identify ways to improve next time.”  

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