The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that 10 grant applications to fund research have been rejected by the CIRM staff due to conflict of interest violations. That’s good. But get this: The agency is refusing to divulge which members of its steering committee violated the rules. From the story:
California’s stem cell agency on Friday acknowledged that it has turned back 10 grant applications worth millions of dollars because the applications were accompanied by letters of support from members of its own governing board.This is unacceptable. Those on the governing board who tried to steer money to their own institutions—even if ignorant of the rules, which would be telling in itself—should be off the governing board. In fact, representatives of institutions or businesses that are going to apply for grants should not be on the governing board at all to avoid “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” scams. And it is worth noting that the story is apparently a leak to the Chronicle. It should have been announced by the CIRM in a press release with full disclosure.
But the state-financed California Institute for Regenerative Medicine declined to identify which grants were dinged and which board members potentially violated conflict-of-interest rules by signing the letters meant to bolster the case for grant approval.the
There have been so many irregularities now that the head of the CIRM, Robert Klein, should resign. Time to clean house! Better yet, time to close up shop—not that that will happen.