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Leroy Hood, the head of the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, violated a conflict of interest rule when he reviewed a friend's California Institute for Regenerative Medicine grant application, the Nature News Blog reports. Hood and the applicant, Stanford University's Irv Weissman, own vacation property together.

CIRM disclosed the conflict in a letter to the California legislature leadership, the California Stem Cell Report blog adds. The letter notes that Hood had not previously been part of the agency's grant review process and was not aware of its conflict policy regarding personal relationships. CIRM adds that Hood "agreed that there was a conflict of interest that he had overlooked."

The grant, a $24 million proposal for a genomics data center and research projects, was not funded, the Nature News Blog adds.

This, CIRM spokesman Kevin McCormack tells the California Stem Cell Report blog was "clearly a case of a new reviewer making an innocent error."