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

y undercuts faith in vital, lifesaving research."

The problems involving the young faculty grants are the second conflict of interest problems to come to light at the stem cell agency in two weeks. Under the law, board members cannot take part in decisions about grants to their institutions. Despite those rules, some board members who are university deans wrote letters supporting applicants from their schools.

Earlier it was discovered that John Reed, board member and president of the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, had improperly intervened seeking to overcome the rejection of a $638,000 grant to his institution. On Monday, California's Fair Political Practices Commission agreed to investigate a conflict of interest complaint against Reed brought by FTCR.

FTCR said an announcement Tuesday from Reed that he would recuse himself from all stem cell board deliberations until the investigation is concluded was only a step in the right direction.

"The stem cell board would be best served if Reed simply resigned," said John M. Simpson, FTCR's Stem Cell Project director. Simpson has also called for stem cell committee Chairman Robert Klein to step aside as chairman of the oversight board.

"Klein got the stem cell agency off the ground with great entrepreneurial spirit," said Simpson. "There is much to thank him for. However, he has never demonstrated the he understands that the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) is a state agency. It's time he passed the torch to someone who gets it. CIRM is not a private club or foundation and cannot be run as if it were."

After the Reed case surfaced and FTCR filed its complaint, State Controller John Chiang announced plans to audit the agency and also called for an FPPC investigation.

"Failure to act promptly and appropriately to restore the public's trust can only damage the institute," said Simpson. "The members of the oversight board are intelli
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SOURCE Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights
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