The recent report from the China Committee of the California Research Laboratory raises questions about the proper use of the laboratory, the effectiveness of program oversight, and the need for greater transparency. The report, released in June 2020, was commissioned by the California Department of Public Health in 2019 to assess the activities of programs in California that use the California Laboratory Program.
The report noted that the California Laboratory Program (CLP) is the state’s primary laboratory used for research on new technologies, including areas such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, and novel diagnostic tests. The program is also used to investigate acquired infectious diseases, many of which are linked to China.
The report identified several areas where policy changes are needed. These include: improved communication and collaboration between the program and other state agencies; more transparent oversight and management of the CLP; better communications between the CLP and California state laboratories; and, strengthening the program’s scientific integrity and capacity.
In addition, the report recommends that the CLP be better integrated into California’s public health system, that it share data more openly with other labs, and that it develop a more transparent reporting system.
The report also suggests that more should be done to ensure public trust in the CLP, including more robust security and ethics protocols.
The report is the latest in a series of reports relating to the use of the California Laboratory Program. In response to the report’s findings, the Department of Public Health has stated that they take the findings seriously and are taking steps to strengthen the program. They have also committed to periodic reviews by outside experts to ensure that the program continues to meet its mission goals.