Stem Cell Research Grant Challenged; Hearing Denied
Two consumer groups on Thursday called for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to freeze a $2.6 million grant to CHA Regenerative Medicine Institute, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The award was announced last week as part of a package of $76 million in grants to 29 institutions (Hall, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/23).
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, 2/27).
Marcy Darnovsky, associate director of the Center for Genetics and Society, and representatives of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Research have questioned the not-for-profit status of CHA and alleged links to a discredited South Korean researcher.
Dale Carlson, communications director for CIRM, said that not-for-profit status and researcher credentials are evaluated in the proposal review process (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/23).
Meanwhile, groups challenging the constitutionality of California's stem cell research program will not be granted a re-hearing in state appeals court, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco denied the petition on Tuesday (Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/21).
A three-judge panel of the court in February voted unanimously to uphold California's stem cell agency.
The California Family Bioethics Council, People's Advocate and National Tax Limitation Foundation were appealing an April 2006 ruling in an Alameda Superior Court that the agency's $3 billion in taxpayer funding was constitutional and that the agency was legal and accountable to the public.
The plaintiffs in 2005 filed suit to challenge the measure's constitutionality claiming that state elected officials do not have direct control over how the $3 billion could be spent (California Healthline, 2/27).
The groups have until April 6 to file a petition for the state Supreme Court to consider their case (San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/21).