May 30, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

And the new leader of CIRM is…

The CIRM Board is meeting today and will decide on its future Chair via an election.

There are two candidates, Jonathan Thomas (nominated by Bill Lockyer, the California state treasurer) and Frank Litvack, nominated by state controller, John Chang. Thomas is described as a Bond financier, while Litvack is an L.A. cardiologist and businessman with biotech leadership experience.

Both clearly have a lot to offer as potential Chairs of CIRM.

I am offering no opinion on which (if either) is better than the other, but these are very different guys with quite distinct backgrounds.

I expect the future course of CIRM would be quite different depending on which one is elected. You can read their letters of interest to CIRM here and here (caution, PDFs).

Scuttlebutt has it that Thomas, who is also an investor in Advanced Cell Technology, is a shoo-in, but I’m not so sure. Either way, I trust the CIRM board to make the best decision.

Whoever is elected will have very large shoes to fill as current Chair, Bob Klein, has done a truly amazing job.

You can learn more about the election and these two gentlemen via David Jensen, who is closely following the election or Nature, which describes the election as a “stark choice”.

It is also crucially important to point out that CIRM already has a leader and will continue to have its leader in the form of President Alan Trounson. Even so it is undoubtedly true that the Chair also has a great deal of power at CIRM.

Stay tuned!