Friday, September 09, 2016

Center for Genetics and Society Calls Trounson Affair Scandalous

The Center for Genetics and Society, a longtime critic of the California stem cell agency, yesterday described the Trounson-StemCells, Inc., affair as "scandalous" and part of an "object lesson" in how not to set up a state agency.

Writing on center's blog, Pete Shanks referred to the disclosure that Alan Trounson, former president of the $3 billion research effort, had received $443,500 in total compensation from StemCells, Inc., of Newark, Ca., for his work on the company's board over a two-year period. Trounson was appointed seven days after leaving the agency, which came as an unpleasant surprise to the stem cell agency's governing board.

StemCells, Inc., was awarded $40 million while Trounson was president of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), as the agency is formally known.

Shanks, an author and consultant to the Berkeley-based center, said,
"Did Trounson or StemCells Inc. do anything illegal? Quite likely not. Was this transaction appropriate? Absolutely not! It’s scandalous, but it’s the kind of scandal that was built into CIRM from its very inception."
Shanks recounted the conflict-of-interest issues that have troubled the agency even prior to voter approval of the program. He concluded,
"CIRM is now slowly running out of the $3 billion of public funds allocated to it in 2004, and is expected to wind up in 2020. It has provided an object lesson in how not to set up and run an independent public-funded agency. These latest revelations should end any speculation about extending its charter."

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