CIRM's endgame

CIRM plots its final years with new strategic plan

In the latest effort to make good on promises made to the voters who created the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) in 2004, the agency has approved a strategic plan spelling out concrete goals for the final five years of its scheduled life. But the clock is ticking, and the question is whether its new approach is enough of an overhaul to turn an organization emerging from years of controversy into one that can meet its objectives of enacting a new regulatory paradigm, bringing industry to the table, and moving 50 products into the clinic by 2020.

CIRM was created with a $3 billion budget through the approval of the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act (California Proposition 71) in 2004, but came under attack from the start from opponents who mounted legal challenges about the organization's structure, mandate and independent status.

In 2012, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) convened a committee at CIRM's request to perform an independent assessment of the stem cell agency's programs, operations, strategies and performance. Stakeholders, who included biotech industry officials, taxpayer and patient advocates, and representatives of California's state oversight agency, the Little Hoover Commission, criticized CIRM for lack of transparency, lack of oversight and insufficient funding of industry

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