CIRM Approves Guidelines for Curbing Conflicts of Interest
CIRM staff will further develop the guidelines, and the committee will decide in March whether to adopt them (Fikes, U-T San Diego, 1/23).
In 2004, California voters approved Proposition 71, which created CIRM. The agency was launched to advance development of stem cell-based disease treatments.
Prop. 71 required that CIRM's oversight board -- the Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee -- be composed mostly of representatives from:
- Biotechnology companies;
- Patient advocacy groups; and
- Research centers.
Since 2004, CIRM has allocated about $1.7 billion to 68 institutions to support advances in stem cell research and regenerative medicine.
In December 2012, the Institute of Medicine released a report stating that CIRM's original structure was useful for launching the initiative, but its overly centralized nature now makes it vulnerable to conflicts of interest.
IOM said that "far too many" CIRM board members are from organizations that could benefit from the research funds that the agency distributes, and therefore, the research agency should be restructured (California Healthline, 12/7/12).
Details of Guidelines
The proposed guidelines call for:
- Voluntary abstention from voting on grants for the 13 members of the 29-member oversight committee who represent CIRM-funded research institutions;
- Restrictions on appeals made directly to the oversight committee by those denied funding; and
- More participation from biomedical companies to speed the transfer of research to clinical use (U-T San Diego, 1/23).