October 27, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Welcome CIRM 2.0 and President Mills

The future is now.

Or so goes the expression.

For CIRM, it rings true today.

CIRM 2.0

Last year I blogged about what we might expect from the new CIRM that would evolve and take form in the future.

I was particularly thinking about this coming incarnation of CIRM, which I called CIRM 2.0, as it related to post-2017 when existing Prop. 71 state funding will run out and I was making the case for additional state funding for beyond 2017 for CIRM.

However, the stem cell field often changes rapidly, even overnight.

In that spirit, from my view for all intents and purposes CIRM 2.0 started yesterday. A big change came years early.

CIRM announced yesterday that C. Randal “Randy” Mills will be its new President taking the place of departing President Alan Trounson.

C. Randal Mills

Biotech leader Mills (formerly of Osiris) serving as the new CIRM President ushers in a fundamentally new era for CIRM and so it immediately kicks off CIRM 2.0.

A warm welcome to President Mills.

What does this all mean for CIRM from a broad perspective?

At and even before its inception, CIRM was all about human pluripotent stem cells, especially embryonic stem cells. The same was true for the first few years.

The production of iPS cells in mouse and human forms in 2006 and 2007 set in motion an ensuing shift for CIRM to include a great deal of iPS cell research in its portfolio.

The election of US President Obama in 2008 eventually released pressure on human ES cell research along with the resolution of the Sherley v. Sebelius Case. Sure, there were some painful moments such as during that time when all NIH hESC research was halted, but they were resolved. And CIRM’s focus continued to shift just a bit further.

Even with these changes, CIRM was still primarily focused on pluripotent stem cells. The notion of a leader with a primarily for-profit mesenchymal stem cell-centered focus at the helm of CIRM would have seemed impossible even just a few years ago. However, a tidal shift just happened. Okay, so it didn’t happen all at once overnight and observers of CIRM could see this trend begin a few years ago, but the appointment of Mills as the new CIRM Prez crystallizes this change.

It bears repeating. The future is now at CIRM.

What’s the bottom line?

The CIRM of today and the future is primarily going to be about focused stem cell clinical product development (the main goal of Prop. 71) and raising capital to support that development beyond 2017.

Let’s see what develops.