California Universities Could Lose Grants From Stem Cell Agency
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine might reject applications for research grants from several universities because the applications included letters of recommendation from deans who also sit on the agency's oversight board, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/7).
Voters approved the creation of the stem cell agency under Proposition 71, a 2004 ballot measure that authorized the sale of $3 billion in state bonds over 10 years for stem cell research (California Healthline, 11/29).
Although the grant application requires a letter of support from a dean or department chair, members of CIRM's Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee are prohibited from using their jobs to influence the grant review process.
According to the Chronicle, CIRM has notified four universities of conflict-of-interest violations:
- UC-San Diego;
- UC-San Francisco; and
The applications were vying for grants from the first round of a new $85 million program to pay salaries of stem cell researchers. The awards are scheduled to be approved on Dec. 12 by the oversight committee.
The Chronicle reports that the stem cell agency is considering two options if the questionable applications are rejected:
- The four universities would reapply for grants at a later date of at least six months; or
- The universities would update their applications, citing confusion over the letter-of-recommendation rules.
A spokesperson for the agency declined to comment (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/7). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.