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Conn. Committee That Gives Embryonic Stem Cell Research Grants Postpones Meetings Until Conflict-of-Interest Concerns Addressed

October 06, 2017

The Connecticut Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee, which is authorized to distribute state funding for human embryonic stem cell research projects, has postponed its meetings until the state Legislature addresses concerns raised by the Office of State Ethics about the committee's composition, a state Department of Public Health spokesperson said Tuesday, the Hartford Courant reports (Hathaway, Hartford Courant, 4/19). Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell (R) in June 2005 signed into law a measure (SB 934) that provides $100 million in state funding over 10 years for human embryonic stem cell research conducted in the state but bans human reproductive cloning and the sale of human eggs, sperm and embryos. The law established that the nine-member committee will administer grants in consultation with the commissioner of the state health department, and also created a five-member Stem Cell Research Peer Review Board (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 6/17/05). According to the Courant, a majority of committee members have some affiliation with the University of Connecticut or Yale University, and researchers from the two schools are expected to receive the "lion's share" of the funds. The state ethics office in an opinion requested by the state health department said that committee members cannot be employed by institutions seeking grants, adding that the state Legislature did not grant a waiver of conflict-of-interest requirements in Connecticut law to the stem cell committee when it approved SB 934. William Gerrish, a spokesperson for state health department commissioner and committee chair J. Robert Galvin, said Galvin is addressing the concerns with the state Legislature and hopes changes will be made by May 3, when the legislative session ends (Hathaway, Hartford Courant, 4/19).

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