Loring's statement this week to the California Stem Cell Report addresses the 3,300-word evaluation by Jeff Sheehy, who has served on the agency board since its inception in 2004.
Here is the full text of Loring's comments:
"I urge the promoters of the new initiative to not confuse criticism with anti-CIRMism. Jeff’s assessment is logical, detailed, and comes from the heart; his goal is to de-politicize the agency and make it more accountable to the people of California.
"There is tremendous concern that the decisions of the ICOC, both on policy and in deciding what grant applications to fund, are politically and selfishly motivated. This concern is warranted, as manifest in some of the wasteful decisions the ICOC has made. This can be fixed. I would like to see stronger leadership of the ICOC, in the form of a fully committed chairman, and that the committee take its responsibilities more seriously. I agree with Jeff that the ICOC should have fewer members, 7 or 11 instead of 29 or more, so that no member can escape his or her responsibility.
"The ICOC is supposed to make judgements that assure that the funding provided by CIRM is consistent with CIRM’s mission for the people of California. Unfortunately, I have seen too many situations in which it is clear that the ICOC members too often defer to the grant reviewers, who are all from outside California, and have no stake in the outcome of their decisions. The ICOC has too often approved grants of tens of millions of dollars without spending any time investigating the applications and deciding whether the money will be used in the best interest of Californians.
"I fervently hope that Jeff’s specific suggestions about the ballot measure be considered by ICOC members, politicians, and voters. There is a chance now to learn from experience and do this better, and all that will take is to engage the critics who know what they are talking about.
"Anyone who has an untreatable condition should be aware of the practical value of regenerative medicine. We in California have an opportunity that the rest of the world can only wish for - to make lives fundamentally better for those who suffer now and will suffer in the future from diseases and injuries that only regenerative medicine can help."