Changes may be on the way at California’s stem cell funding agency.
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, or CIRM, came under fire in December when an Institute of Medicine report concluded that the agency was plagued by conflicts of interest. (See story in related items at left.)
In response, CIRM’s governing board on Wednesday endorsed a “framework” designed to address some of those concerns. Chief among the changes: Board members from universities and other research institutions who compete for CIRM funding would no longer vote on grants. But CIRM also proposed clarifying the roles of the board chair and agency staff, adopted the IOM recommendation to create a scientific advisory board for strategic guidance, and more.
“These are big potential changes, and important ones,” board Chairman Jonathan Thomas said in a statement.
Created with the passage of Proposition 71 in 2004, CIRM was established to provide funding for embryonic stem cell research, which at the time was ineligible for federal money. As of early December, the agency had allocated nearly $1.7 billion to dozens of institutions that conduct stem cell research.