IOM Report: CIRM Should Work To Reduce Conflicts of Interest
CIRMÂ requested the report and paidÂ IOM $700,000 to conduct the analysis.
In 2004, California voters approved Proposition 71, which created CIRM. The agency was launched to advance development of stem cell-based disease treatments (Fikes, U-T San Diego, 12/6).
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 (Brown, Los Angeles Times, 12/7).
Since 2004, CIRM has allocated about $1.7 billion to 68 institutions to support advances in stem cell research and regenerative medicine (Leuty, San Francisco Business Times, 12/6).
Main Findings of IOM Report
According to the IOM report, CIRM's original structure was useful for launching the initiative, but its overly centralized nature now makes it vulnerable to conflicts of interest (U-T San Diego, 12/6).
IOM said that "far too many" CIRM board members are from organizations that could benefit from the research funds that the agency distributes (Los Angeles Times, 12/7).
The report recommended that CIRM take several steps to reduce conflicts of interest and improve its effectiveness, including:
- Barring members of the oversight board from participating in day-to-day operations;
- Changing the composition of the board to include more members without perceived conflicts of interest;
- Establishing a scientific advisory board to help ensure that CIRM funds the best research efforts;
- Focusing on advancing stem cell technologies relating to the success or failure of disease treatment;
- Integrating its intellectual property policies with federal policies to address uncertainty about licensing and investing in CIRM-funded inventions; and
- Revising its conflict-of-interest definitions to include non-financial interests (San Francisco Business Times, 12/6).
In addition, IOM recommended that CIRM develop strategies for how it will obtain new funding after 2017, when its initial funding will run out.
Jonathan Thomas -- chair of CIRM's board -- said he was encouraged by the report's focus on future funding concerns, which he said suggests that IOM believes CIRM's work is important.
He said that although board members have not yet studied IOM's recommendations in detail, they will spend "a great deal of time" analyzing them in the coming weeks (Los Angeles Times, 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.