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Stem Cell Agency 'Disclosure' Makes Mockery of Claims of Openness and Transparency
Date:12/14/2007

Institute Reveals Identities of 12 Institutions Seeking $260 Million In Laboratory Grants; Five Still Secret

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Dec. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The California stem cell agency's identification of only 12 research institutions recommended to compete for $260 million in facilities grants makes a mockery of any claim to openness and transparency in the selection process, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) said today.

The non-partisan, non-profit consumer advocacy organization called for immediate identification of all the applicants and what level of funding they had originally sought. FTCR added that the need for complete transparency was imperative given recent conflict of interest problems.

"We don't know what the universities asked for," said John M. Simpson, FTCR's Stem Cell Project Director. "We only know what the scientific reviewers in their closed, clubby, secret meeting decided to recommend."

The stem cell agency, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), released the names of 12 institutions that were recommended by a panel of out-of-state scientists for one of three categories of grants. It did not identify five institutions that filed applications, but were not recommended by the so-called Grants Working Group. Nor did the stem cell agency say which level of funding each institution had originally sought.

The three funding levels are "CIRM Institutes," which would get $25 to $50 million; "CIRM Centers of Excellence," eligible for $10 to $25 million and more specialized but smaller projects known as "CIRM Special Projects", slated to receive $5 to $10 million.

The stem cell agency has repeatedly insisted that decisions are made by the stem cell board, the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC). The Grants Working Group only makes recommendations. The stem cell board will consider the grant recommendations at its January meeting an
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SOURCE Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights
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