Remember the Interstate Alliance on Stem Cell Research? They're the folks who threw me out of their meeting last summer in Irvine, CA, even though the organization is made up of representatives of publicly funded stem cell programs across the country. I'm glad to report the organization has come a long way since then.
The notion that science belongs behind closed doors, practiced by members of a private club appears to have vanished. The National Academy of Sciences is administering the IASCR.
And in California, the stem cell agency looks to be headed in the right direction in the way it's preparing for a key meeting next week.
The IASCR's fall meeting in Boston was open to the public. The spring meeting is in Washington, DC, April 9-10. Already the group has a draft agenda posted on its website.
This certainly is the way to proceed if you want meaningful contributions from the public, as well as from the organization's members.
I'm delighted to see the change since last summer . I'll be at the meeting in Washington and with the early posting of the agenda I'll have time to prepare what I hope will be thoughtful and constructive remarks during the period specifically designated for public comment.
Back to California for a moment: In the past the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine has too often struggled to post documents in a timely way that were associated with many of its meetings. The Facilities Working Group will take up the second part of the facilities grants application on April 4 and 5. The applications from 12 institutions are already posted. CIRM plans to give out $262 million in grants to build laboratories.
Rick Keller, senior officer for Scientific and Medical Research Facilities, vows to have the rest of the documents -- the staff analyses, lab planner's evaluations and applicant comments -- posted tomorrow, Friday, March 28, a week ahead of the meeting.
Public policy should always be made in public. And the public must have timely advance access to what's being discussed. That's how policy-makers actually build true support for their actions. Perhaps after a few -- sometimes less than gentle -- nudges from folks like me that message is getting across in these two cases.