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Salaries for key officials at the National Institutes of Health show clearly just how bloated the top salaries at the California stem cell agency are. You'll recall that at its March meeting the oversight committee of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) upped ranges a whopping 23 percent for key executives.

The range for the chairman of the oversight committee and for the president is now $275,000 to $508,750.  President Alan Trounson makes $490,000.  Chairman Bob Klein, since the CIRM's inception, has donated his time and declined a salary.

The range for the chief scientific officer was increased to $180,000 to $332,00.  The   committee gave  Dr. Marie Csete the job at its March meeting and agreed to pay her $310,000.

Jim Downing, a Sacramento Bee business reporter, covered the session where the committee displayed its largess. It prompted him to file Freedom of Information Act requests for Form 50s covering some of the top NIH officials. He shared results with me today:

Elias Zerhouni, Director, NIH: $191,300 (increased in January from $186,600)
John Niederhuber, Director, National Cancer Institute: $247,500
Francis Collins, Director, National Human Genome Research Institute: $300,000
Story Landis, Director, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes: $260,000

CIRM's salaries are ridiculously out of whack.

And another point of interest: At the March meeting I asked Bob Klein if the fact the salary range for chairman was increased might indicate he was contemplating getting paid. His response:

"I don't think that we know at this point. I will tell you from my personal viewpoint that at some point after five years, I have to figure out how long I can continue to serve if I continue not to receive compensation. It is a pertinent issue that I'm considering.  I expect the board to consider that at some point in the future, but at this point there is no determination that I'm aware of."

As I told him at the time, I don't think he should be expected to continue without pay. It just should be a fair salary and the top end of the newly approved ranges far exceed that.