State Controller John Chiang yesterday directed his office to audit the state stem cell institute to ensure that all necessary oversight and procedures are in place as millions of taxpayers dollars begin to roll out.

­It will be the third review of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine's finances, which have been studied by an independent auditor, as required by law, and then were reviewed at the request of the state Legislature. Those were general audits that looked at everything from routine expenses to travel and salaries.

The controller's audit will specifically look at the grant process: how grants are allocated, whether the institute provides adequate oversight once grants are awarded and the performance milestones in place.

"It is imperative that the research financing move forward in an ethical and transparent manner," Chiang said yesterday during a stem cell institute committee meeting.

Chiang said he has no reason to believe anything is wrong at the institute, but that it is crucial to assure taxpayers their "generous investment in stem cell research" is being handled in a transparent and above-board way... see more