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Stem Cell Institute Correct in Rejecting Applications Over Conflicts of Interest; Institutions, Board Members Involved Must Be Identified, Consumer Advocates Say
Date:12/7/2007

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Dec. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- California's stem cell agency made the correct decision today when it announced it was rejecting 10 applications for research grants because of apparent conflict of interest violations in California's $6 billion stem cell program, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) said.

The non-partisan, non-profit consumer advocacy organization added that to completely resolve the matter, the stem cell agency must identify the universities and stem cell board members involved.

"The only way to fix this is complete transparency," said John M. Simpson, FTCR's Stem Cell Project director. "People have a right to know which board members still don't understand conflict of interest rules."

The latest improprieties were revealed by the San Francisco Chronicle and came in the wake of the revelation that John Reed, Burnham Institute president and stem cell board member, had lobbied to reverse the rejection of a grant to his institution. Read the Chronicle story here: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/12/07/BAOTTQ0JO.DTL&f eed=rss.bayarea

"It's simple: stem cell board members cannot take part in any way in grants to their institutions," said John M. Simpson, FTCR's Stem Cell Project Director. "The board is not some old-boys' club for the benefit of the state's universities. They are public officials and stewards of the public interest. Perhaps a few of these deans need to enroll in Ethics 101 at their universities and get the basics down."

The new violations of stem cell board ethics rules came when some university deans who also serve on the stem cell board wrote letters supporting applications for research grants. The grants in question could total $3 million each over five years. During its meeting in Los Angeles next week, the stem cell bo
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SOURCE Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights
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