Profession

Group calls for resignation of Calif. stem cell agency head

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Feb. 27, 2006

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A bioethics group in January issued a one-year progress report that was very critical of California's stem cell research agency, calling for Robert Klein II, the chair of the agency's governing board, to step down. The Oakland, Calif.-based Center for Genetics and Society, which opposed the 2004 state referendum that granted $3 billion for stem cell research, gave the agency known as the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine a C-minus grade for:

  • Lacking transparency and openness in its decision-making.
  • Failing to develop intellectual-property policies that ensure the state shares in research profits.
  • Taking a confrontational approach to relations with state lawmakers.
  • Not disclosing the financial interests of members of its working group.
  • Not emphasizing treatments that would be affordable to low-income Californians.
  • Failing to establish ethical and safety standards for protecting egg donors, research subjects and tracking cloned embryos.

"We're not dignifying [the report] with a response," said Nicole Pagano, a CIRM spokeswoman. She said the report's criticisms already had been addressed by the agency's 29-member governing board, the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee. At press time, a Feb. 10 meeting of the agency's working group was set to issue standards on intellectual property, ethics and safety, Pagano said.

Two lawsuits expected to last another 15 months have blocked CIRM from selling state bonds to raise the promised $3 billion. The group is now trying to raise money privately.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2006/02/27/prbf0227.htm.

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