April 13, 2013 |
Clive Svendsen doesn't get rattled easily, but the neurobiologist couldn't help sweating when Stephen Hawking paid a visit to his lab this week. Hawking is one of the world's foremost theoretical physicists. He pioneered groundbreaking research into how particles behave around black holes and deduced that black holes spit out radiation as they swallow up matter. He's also credited with teaching millions about the mysteries of the cosmos through his books, including the bestseller "A Brief History of Time.
February 27, 2013
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.
January 29, 2013 |
Compromise, defined as the art of getting part of a loaf when the whole loaf is out of reach, comes in many forms. But surely the strangest of all is what comes of trying to compromise with yourself. That's what California's stem cell agency is attempting to do. And judging from its record of pioneering new ways of funding and managing scientific research, you can rest assured that the results will be fraught with interest. What's at issue is how the agency's board wrestles with recommendations for changes in its membership and its authority over the spending of its $3-billion endowment in state bond funds (that's $6 billion, including interest)
January 25, 2013 |
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.
January 8, 2013 |
In rejecting a challenge to President Obama's policy to continue embryonic stem cell research, the Supreme Court wisely chose Monday to further vital research over the interests of competing scientists and religious groups. The court did not issue a decision. Instead, it rejected a petition to hear arguments in an appeal of a 2011 ruling by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which decided the National Institutes of Health could continue embryonic stem cell research from lines derived from already destroyed embryos.
January 7, 2013 |
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court has turned away a challenge to President Obama's policy of expanding government-funded research using embryonic stem cells that scientists say may offer hope for new treatments for spinal injuries and Parkinson's disease. The court's action brings a quiet end to a lawsuit that briefly threatened to derail all funding for such research. A federal judge in Washington in 2010 ordered the National Institutes of Health to halt funding of the research, citing a long-standing congressional ban on spending for research in which “human embryos are destroyed.” But an appeals court overturned that order and ruled last year that the ban applied only to research which destroyed human embryos so as to obtain stem cells.
December 14, 2012
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the quasi-governmental agency authorized to spend $3 billion in taxpayer money on embryonic stem cell research, deserves praise for commissioning an independent study of its operations by a blue-ribbon committee of the Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences. But the $700,000 spent on the study - funded by donations - will be wasted if the institute's oversight board fails to heed the committee's criticisms, which echo the findings of the Little Hoover Commission and other groups over the years.
December 12, 2012 |
If you're betting that the California stem cell agency will spurn key recommendations of a blue-ribbon review panel that criticized its leadership and management structures, you might want to double that bet. Several board members showed overt hostility to the panel's recommendations during a public meeting today. The governing board of the agency, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, formally received the review report at its meeting today in Los Angeles. The Institute of Medicine, an affiliate of the National Academy of Sciences, was paid $700,000 by CIRM to conduct the yearlong study of the $6-billion state stem cell program.
December 7, 2012 |
The board of California's stem cell funding agency is rife with conflicts of interest and should be restructured to improve the integrity of its grant-making process, according to a new report from independent experts convened by the national Institute of Medicine. The committee found that "far too many" of the board members are from organizations that stand to benefit from the $3 billion the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine is supposed to dole out to researchers over 10 years.
December 6, 2012 |
The signs are not encouraging. On Thursday, a blue-ribbon committee of the National Academy of Sciences issued its report on its yearlong critical review of California's $6-billion stem cell program, the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine. The report will be formally presented to CIRM at a meeting Dec. 12. The review committee found that embedded conflicts of interest on the CIRM board "threaten to ... undermine respect for its decisions. " The lack of independent, disinterested members on a board made up mostly of officials of institutions in line to obtain CIRM grants or advocates for patients of specific diseases "erodes confidence" in the board's ability to handle its strategic responsibilities, the panel added.