Sunday, December 09, 2007

California's CIRM as a hanging curve ball

As californiastemcellreport duly covers the latest round of conflict-of-interest scandals at CIRM (Proposition 71), IPBiz notes that the foreseeable results of bad policy decisions are not even particularly newsworthy. When the people handing out the money of California taxpayers are the same people getting the money of California taxpayers, what did one really expect to happen?

One IPBiz reader wrote: The CIRM folks have their pot of money, and yet seem to think they don't need to use the same rules as everybody else for proposals. In other words, they don't want to copy the wheel, nor do they want to reinvent the wheel, they don't want to be bothered by the wheel! To paraphrase a famous person on IPBIZ: "Plagiarize with pride" is morphed into ""Talk the money, we earned it" with pride". But that opinion does not show up in the newspapers, even if the factual story does.

As to the newsworthiness of the conflict-of-interest problems, switch metaphors. If a major league hitter whacks a hanging curve ball over the center field wall, is the news the home run (major league hitters are supposed to smack hanging curve balls), that the pitcher threw a hanging curve ball, or simply that, at the major league level, pitchers aren't supposed to throw hanging curve balls, and, when they do, the most likely result is a whacked ball?

At this late date, CIRM has not come up with an intellectual property policy. As a result, "home run hitters" like Yamanaka are not even using CIRM funds, and California taxpayers will have to pay for the "home runs" of these guys. The "singles hitters" are stumbling over themselves to grab some Prop. 71 loot, and, as we have witnessed, don't even care about conflict-of-interest policy.

Even for the home run hitters, the chances of therapeutic uses for embyronic stem cells on a ten year time scale are remote. For the singles hitters, well .... There's likely nothing at the end of this rainbow.

The most likely judgment of history on Proposition 71 will be as a well-intentioned but poorly-executed plan that had little chance of delivering on promises. California could have been a leader, but instead exemplefied all that can go wrong in state-funded research programs. In reality, they could not even have been a contender. This effort was forseeably doomed to be second-rate. On November 6, 2007, a majority of New Jersey voters figured this out, and saved New Jersey taxpayers a lot of waste. Imagine what would have happened if Jersey voters had seen the current stumbling greed in California?

In a paradoxical switch, in the last month or so, IPBiz has been covering more "good news" about embryonic stem cell work than californiastemcellreport, which has been covering a lot of bad news about CIRM and little news about the recent technical developments.


See The Cost of Tin Ears and Missed Opportunities and note the text

Foes of stem cell research cackle on the Internet about violations of CIRM's ethical standards


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