Confidentiality Needed in Stem Cell Grant Discussions
California Institute for Regenerative Medicine President Zach Hall on Wednesday testified that the institute's confidential grant review process is typical and "essential" to funding scientific research, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports.
Hall was the only witness called Wednesday in the trial to determine the constitutionality of Proposition 71, which voters approved in 2004 to provide $3 billion over 10 years to fund stem cell research.
Plaintiffs argue that CIRM is wrongly exempting itself from the state's open meeting laws and that some members of the Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee have conflicts of interest because organizations with which they are affiliated could seek Proposition 71 funding.
A "working group" comprising 15 scientists and seven patient advocates holds closed-door meetings to consider grant applications, and then makes funding recommendations to ICOC.
Hall said, "This method is confidential because science is a competitive enterprise." He added that confidential meetings will encourage candid discussions about applications.
The trial is expected to end on Thursday after lawyers decide which e-mails and other written messages can be submitted as evidence. Closing arguments will be submitted in writing to Alameda County Superior Court Judge Bonnie Sabraw, who will decide the verdict (Elias, AP/Contra Costa Times, 3/2).
Several broadcast programs reported on the start of the case:
- KPCC's "AirTalk": The segment includes comments from Lee Romney, staff writer for the Los Angeles Times (Mantle, "AirTalk," KPCC, 2/28). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- KQED's "Forum": Guests on the program included Senate Health Committee Chair Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento); Pilar Ossorio, assistant professor of law and medical ethics at the University of Wisconsin Law School; Jesse Reynolds, project director on biotechnology accountability at the Center for Genetics and Society; and Christopher Thomas Scott, executive director of Stanford University's program on stem cells and society (Krasny, "Forum," KQED, 3/1). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- KQED's "The California Report": The segment includes comments from Karen Minor, president of Research for a Cure (Shuler, "The California Report," KQED, 2/28). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.