Site Selection Subcommittee for Stem Cell Agency Agrees To Changes in Scoring System
The site-selection subcommittee for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine on Monday voted to make "only minor changes" to the scoring system used by the subcommittee to recommend a location for CIRM headquarters, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The decision "improved dramatically" the likelihood that San Francisco would be chosen to host CIRM headquarters, according to the Chronicle.
The subcommittee agreed to scoring changes to accommodate clarifications from bidders regarding economic incentives, subsidized hotel rooms and available skilled workers. The changes did not increase San Francisco's score, which is 158 points out of a possible 200. The changes increased Sacramento's total by two points to 135, San Diego's by 11 points to 127 and Emeryville's by four points to 119.
The subcommittee also adopted a 90-point scorecard to be used during site inspections that are scheduled to begin Friday. The scorecard ranks the sites on components such as proximity and quality of nearby research centers. The scores will be added to the previous totals, making it "unlikely that San Francisco can be dislodged," the Chronicle reports.
Subcommittee member John Reed, head of the Burnham Institute in San Diego, persuaded the group to add an additional 30 points to the site-inspection scorecard for "overall impressions." In addition, the subcommittee can now subtract up to 10 points for any negative factors encountered during the inspections.
The subcommittee on Monday will recommend a host city and runner-up based on the scoring system. The results on May 7 will be forwarded to the full Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee, which will make a final decision.
"I like our chances," Jesse Blout, director of economic development in San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's (D) administration, said Monday, following the subcommittee's teleconference meeting (Hall, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/26).
Duane Roth -- executive director of UCSD Connect, a business-financing affiliate of the university -- said the scoring system was "completely inappropriate." Roth said the majority of the scoring had been decided by people who had not visited the proposed sites and who were not members of the appointed site-selection committee (Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/26).
Claire Pomeroy, a member of the subcommittee and the dean of University of California-Davis School of Medicine, was the only subcommittee member to oppose the scoring changes. She said, "I didn't feel this left the site-selection committee with any leeway."
ICOC Chair Robert Klein said the changes to the scoring system increased the importance of on-site visits. He also noted that ICOC was not required to select the top-scoring city. Klein said the most important factor in selecting a location should be the number of biomedical professionals nearby (Hardy, Sacramento Bee, 4/26).
In related news, KQED's "The California Report" on Friday reported on the introduction of a bill (S 658) that would ban human reproductive cloning and loosen federal restrictions on funding for human embryonic stem cell research. A bipartisan group of U.S. senators, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), introduced the bill.
The segment includes comments from Feinstein and David Gollaher, president and CEO of the California Healthcare Institute (Niiler, "The California Report," KQED, 4/22). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.