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New chair to be selected for California Institute for Regenerative Medicine

The governing board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine is scheduled to decide this evening between two candidates for chairman: bond financier Jonathan Thomas, PhD, and cardiologist and business man Frank Litvack, MD. Litvack was nominated by California State controller John Chiang, while Thomas was nominated by California treasurer Bill Lockyer, lieutenant governor Gavin Newson, and governor Jerry Brown.

The two men are very different in terms of both background and expectations as to what role the chair should play in CIRM's overall governance and mission. Thomas feels the job would require a substantial time commitment and involvement in the day-to-day workings of the agency, whereas Litvack views the job as more of a supervisory position with less hands-on governing. The men are reportedly also seeking vastly different salaries--from about $137,000 for Litvack versus about $400,000 or more for Thomas.

I could list lots of links for background, but David Jensen of the California Stem Cell Report has already done that legwork for me by compiling a thorough reading list that includes links to statements from the candidates, recent news reports about the selection process and a memo from current chairman Robert Klein detailing his opinion as to the role of the chair in CIRM's future. He also includes a link to a recent Nature report describing the 'stark choice' the agency faces with their vote tonight.

The meeting, which starts at 4 pm PST will be webcast to the public. Candidate statements are estimated to begin at around 5 pm. However, I'm thinking much of the juicy discussion will likely be reserved for the governing board's closed session this evening. Le sigh. That won't stop me from listening to the public portion of the meeting. If you care about the future of California's stem cell agency, you should too.

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