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Stem Cell Agency Finally Reveals Institutions Involved in Conflict Problem
Date:12/12/2007

After Public Pressure, Five Research Institutions Are Identified During Grant Award Discussion

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The California stem cell agency's decision today to reveal the names of five research institutions whose applications for research grants were rejected because of possible conflict of interest violations was correct, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) said.

But the non-partisan, non-profit organization stressed that the names of the institutions should have been released as soon as the problem came to light.

"Holding back the details simply undermines the public's trust in the stem cell agency," said John M. Simpson, FTCR's Stem Cell Project Director. "I don't understand their propensity for secrecy. It serves neither the board nor the agency nor the public."

The institutions involved are UC San Francisco, UC San Diego, UCLA, University of Southern California and the Burnham Institute for Medical Research. Officials at the institutions who are also members of the stem cell board signed letters supporting applications for research grants.

The 29-member oversight committee met at UCLA today and awarded $54.4 million in grants for young faculty members beginning their research careers. After 10 applications were rejected because of the conflict problem, 48 applications were under consideration. The board approved 22 grants.

It is expected that another call for young faculty grants will be approved at the board's January meeting. The 10 rejected applicants, as well as others, could apply in that round. Before the applications were tossed out, the board expected to authorize $85 million in grants.

"The stem cell agency continues too frequently to operate as if it were a private club or foundation, not the $6 billion state agency it in fact is," said Simpson. "This unwarranted veil of secrecy undermines public trust in the agency and ultimatel
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SOURCE Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights
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