After years of resisting all criticisms of its operations, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine is finally listening — a little. It spent $700,000 for an outside, high-level review that complimented the stem cell agency for funding an excellent portfolio of research projects, but also raised serious objections to the agency's structure, which the review said was likely to lead to financial conflicts of interest.
The criticisms were nothing new — many of the same points have been made since the agency was created by Proposition 71 in 2004 — but the positive response by the chairman of the agency's board was. The governing board is now making changes to address some of the long-standing issues.
Yet the agency isn't exactly embracing an ethical overhaul. It's doing just enough to address the criticisms without triggering any oversight from the Legislature. The modifications are more a bandage than a cure. Like a bandage, they will probably do, but only for a limited time.
The single biggest problem identified in the report by the Institute of Medicine, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, was that the large governing board, which approves all of the grants made from the