The Institute of Medicine, or IOM, today released a review of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The review, which was commissioned by CIRM about 17 months ago, praises the agency for quickly and effectively dispersing funds to support a diverse group of research proposals and institutions, but it also recommended restructuring the organization's board and clearly separating the management of day-to-day operations from long-term strategic planning and oversight activities. According to the IOM's press release:
The IOM's review, commissioned by CIRM, noted that the organization rapidly built a high-quality research portfolio that has supported 40 patent applications and three license agreements and enabled grant recipients to attract over $1 billion in matching funds. While the study committee was not asked to evaluate the merits of individual projects that CIRM has funded or denied, it commended the institute for quickly implementing a thoughtful and effective grant-making process. At the same time, however, CIRM's leadership and California legislators need to consider changes in the institute's governance and operations given the rapid progress being made in the field, the institute's need for independent oversight, and the institute's desire to steer its efforts from basic research to clinical applications, the report says.
[...] "Overall, CIRM has done a remarkably good job setting priorities and directing voter-approved funds to projects that have given California a prominent position in regenerative medicine," said committee chair Harold T. Shapiro, president emeritus and professor of economics and public affairs, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J. "The field has evolved since CIRM's inception, so we have recommended ways to help the maturing institute evolve as well, particularly in its governance structure, some of its administrative practices, and its use of external perspectives on strategic scientific priorities."
From CIRM's press release:
"As a public agency we have a duty to be as open and transparent as possible,” says Ellen Feigal, MD, Senior Vice President for Research and Development. “This report demonstrates our commitment to that goal. It includes opinions from a wide variety of perspectives, both scientific and non-scientific, and these will help guide us in the next phase of our work.”
The state stem cell agency plans to present the IOM's recommendations to their board on Dec. 12 during their next regularly scheduled meeting. In the meantime, the chair of their board, Jonathan Thomas, PhD, JD, has this to say on their blog:
We take the report, and all its observations, seriously and over the next few months the agency’s management team and our governing board will consider how best to respond to the report and its recommendations.