The board of California's stem cell funding agency is rife with conflicts of interest and should be restructured to improve the integrity of its grant-making process, according to a new report from independent experts convened by the national Institute of Medicine.
The committee found that "far too many" of the board members are from organizations that stand to benefit from the $3 billion the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine is supposed to dole out to researchers over 10 years. Making matters worse, the panel said, the 29 board members are too closely involved in the agency's day-to-day decisions.
"They make proposals to themselves, essentially, regarding what should be funded," said Harold Shapiro, former president of Princeton University and chair of the 13-person committee that issued the report Thursday. "They cannot exert independent oversight."