Consumer Watchdog Thursday welcomed a report from the prestigious Institute of Medicine (IOM) calling for sweeping reforms in governance at California’s stem cell agency and an end to the board’s built-in conflicts of interest.
The report said that “far too many board members represent organizations” that receive funding or benefit from the stem cell agency. The IOM said that the board’s oversight function should be separated from the day-to-day management of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).
“The IOM’s critical report echoes what every independent evaluator has said in the past,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Stem Cell Project director. “As we have repeated from the beginning, CIRM suffers from built-in conflicts of interest and needs to separate the board’s oversight function from day-to-day management.”
“It’s long past time to make the changes the report calls for, but given the spin the agency put on its response — saying the report praises the ‘agency as a bold innovation’ — shows it’s business as usual. This sort of behavior will only ensure that CIRM doesn’t get another round of public funding,” Simpson said.
CIRM is expected to run out of money for new grants by 2017. CIRM paid $700,000 to IOM for the report.
The IOM report said neither the chairman nor board members should be members of the agency’s working groups. It recommended the working groups report to the agency’s president.
IOM said CIRM should expand its definition of a conflict of interest beyond financial conflicts including such things as the potential for personal conflicts of interesting arising from one’s own affliction with a disease of personal advocacy on behalf of that disease.