In a first in its 18-year history, the California stem cell agency has begun posting on its website a list of its governing board members who have conflicts of interest as they award hundreds of millions of dollars.

The most recent example comes next Tuesday in a $48 million round that will benefit at least 16 public and private colleges in the Golden State and up to 400 students at a cost of $58,220 each.

The public conflict postings reflect an awareness of the need for transparency at the $12 billion agency, officially known as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). The research effort was created by voters in 2004 via a ballot initiative, Proposition 71The measure gave many of the potential beneficiaries a seat at the table where the money is handed out.

Since CIRM’s inception, about 80 percent of its awards — now totaling $3 billion — have gone to institutions that have links to past or current members of its board, according to an analysis by the California Stem Cell Report and Capitol Weekly.  CIRM’s former general counsel, James Harrison, once described the situation as a product of  “inherent conflicts of interest.”

The latest list shows that 25 members of CIRM’s 35-member governing board have conflicts in the round to be considered Tuesday. The awards involve a new educational program that has a total budget of $58 million. Applicants range from state and private colleges to University of California campuses….

The above comes from an August 24 story in Capitol Weekly.