Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bias in grant review by California's CIRM?

From a post at californiastemcellreport:

Simpson [John Simpson of ConsumerWatchdog, formerly FTCR] noted that some companies earlier had "groused" about their treatment [in review of their grant proposals to CRIM]. And he asked, "Did the companies get a fair shake or not?"

We queried all 18 concerning the grant reviews. Fifteen did not respond to the questions. One said it was satisfied, one said anonymously it was quite dissatisfied, and one was withholding judgment until the next round of grants. At least three additional companies, however, have publicly told CIRM directors that they have issues with the agency's review process.


At the August meeting of CIRM directors, Steven Kessler, a scientific director at Advanced Cell Technology, said that his company had filed information that one of the reviewers had a financial conflict of interest as the result of ties to another company. Kessler did not identify the individual or spell out the exact nature of the conflict. He told directors that he was told by the agency "the way CIRM interprets its own conflict of interest policy, the example I gave you was not a conflict of interest."

Kessler also cited the low success rate of business applications as "clear evidence of bias."

At the same meeting, William Adams, chief financial officer of International Stem Cell, indicated that CIRM directors were excessively worried about "ticking off" scientific grant reviewers with public criticism of the quality of their reviews.

CIRM still doesn't have a clear policy on intellectual property, and engaged a non-registered patent attorney to review its IP policies.


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