Jonathan Thomas is chair of the CIRM governing board
In early December the Institutes of Medicine (IOM) released its long-awaited report and recommendations on the stem cell agency, detailing what we do well and where we can do better. It was a report we commissioned ourselves because we want to make sure we are doing the best job we can to justify the trust the people of California placed in us when they voted to create CIRM.
The report had ten recommendations including changes to the grant applicant appeals process, to the way our Grants Working Group operates, to the responsibilities of the Chair and President, and changes to the structure of our Governing Board, the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC) to reduce the possibility of the appearance of conflicts of interest.
In the month since the recommendations came out, we have been organizing a workshop to carefully consider them. While some of the IOM’s recommendations are administrative in nature and can be implemented, others are much more complex and would require changes in Board policy, or legislative changes.
We take the recommendations very seriously and have a procedure in place for our Board to consider them and decide on how best to respond to them.
On Wednesday, January 23rd we are holding a workshop for the Board to discuss the recommendations and to try and determine a course of action (here's the agenda and audiocast details). Our goal is to come out with some clear ideas on what we intend to propose doing, and how we intend to begin that work.
If Board members decide during that meeting on a preferred way of addressing the IOM’s recommendations we will vote on that strategy either at the end of the workshop, if we’re ready, or at the Board meeting to be held the following day (agenda and audiocast details for that meeting are here). My goal is to strive to reach consensus on a course of action on the 23rd. However, if the Board isn’t able to choose a course of action at this time we will continue the conversation and bring it up at future Board meetings until we reach agreement. Throughout the process I’ll blog about important advances, and the agency will issue a press release once a final decision is reached.
It’s likely the debate will be passionate – everyone involved in this work cares deeply about it – and there will undoubtedly be disagreements, but ultimately we all share the same goal, a desire to make sure that whatever we decide helps make the stem cell agency even stronger and more effective, and is in the best interests of the people of California.