Avoid Temptation To Seek ‘Big-Name’ Scientists, Consumer Advocates Urge
Santa Monica, CA — California’s stem cell oversight committee should focus on finding a competent, hands-on administrator to replace retiring Dr. Zach Hall as president of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, said the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR).
“Members of the search committee should avoid the temptation of seeking a ‘big-name’ scientist known for his or her discoveries,” said John M. Simpson, FTCR Stem Cell Project Director. “The emphasis must be on the individual’s skills in scientific management and administration.”
Focusing on ‘big names’ could result in hiring a figurehead rather than an executive committed to making the stem cell institute work in the public’s best interest, FTCR said.
The presidential search committee meets at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 31, in San Francisco. In a letter to Robert Klein committee chairman, Simpson said that Dr. Hall had exemplified the qualities necessary for the position during his two years in the job.
“The next president must be an extremely competent hands-on scientific administrator, who can set up and maintain transparent and accountable management systems,” Simpson wrote. “He or she must be able to interact with the public, state officials, legislators and the media in a transparent, honest and accountable fashion.”
In the past there have been suggestions that the president of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) might continue to maintain a research laboratory as part of the president’s role. This should not be allowed, FTCR said.
Finally, while there are a number of individuals on the ICOC itself who have performed admirably in their positions as scientific administrators, FTCR said CIRM‘s interests would be best served if the search does not consider them and looks beyond the oversight committee.
Dr. Hall announced at the stem cell oversight committee’s December meeting that he wished to retire within six months. Under Proposition 71 California’s voters in 2004 approved the creation of a $6 billion stem cell research program. Though bond financing has been delayed by court challenges, the first research grants will be made at the oversight committee’s meeting Feb. 15-16 with a loan from the state’s general fund.
Oral arguments in the litigation challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 71 are scheduled before the Court of Appeal, First District, at 9:00 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 14. The courtroom is in the Civic Center, 350 McAllister Street in San Francisco.
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The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is California’s leading non-profit and non-partisan consumer watchdog group. For more information visit us on the web at http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org. Our stem cell information page is located at http://www.StemCellWatch.org.