Stem Cell Agency Reveals Comments on Grant Winners
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine on its Web site has disclosed summaries of the agency's application reviews for grant recipients who won awards on March 22, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Twenty-nine senior biologists were chosen from 70 applicants to receive multi-year research grants from the stem cell agency (Hall, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/31).
California voters in 2004 approved Proposition 71 to create CIRM and provide $3 billion in taxpayer funding over 10 years for stem cell research. The funding primarily was intended to finance human embryonic stem cell research, for which federal funds are restricted (California Healthline, 3/31).
The agency has begun publicizing grant winners and comments partly in response to criticism that it is not transparent in the grant review process. Most grant-writing agencies, such as NIH, do not disclose such matters.
Arlene Chiu, director of scientific programs and review at the agency, said, "This is the first time you can see how people criticize one another."
Jeff Sheehy, a patient advocate for HIV/AIDS on the grant review committee, said the agency will not reveal the applicants who did not win a grant to avoid "discourage[ing] people who don't get a grant this time from coming back again by holding them up to public ridicule" (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/31).
In related news, NPR's "All Things Considered" on Friday reported on states, such as California, that are publicly funding embryonic stem cell research.
The segment includes comments from:
- California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R);
- Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell (R);
- Paul Pescatello, president and CEO of Connecticut United for Research Excellence, a consortium of biotechnology companies in the state;
- Susan Stayn, an attorney who works on stem cell legislation; and
- Harold Varmus, president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (Palca, "All Things Considered," NPR, 3/30).