Reaction To CIRM Science Boss Resignation

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Marie Csete.

The resignation of the top science officer at California’s stem cell
research funding agency, some say, is exposing deeper management
problems at the San Francisco-based agency. (Read our Wednesday story here.)

It should be noted that at our Bay Area Biotech Forum this morning,
panelists didn’t mention the departure of Marie Csete after little more
than a year on the job at the California Institute for Regenerative
Medicine. Instead, Deepak Srivastava, director of the Gladstone
Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, pointed out that some Gladstone
stem cell programs wouldn’t be around today if it wasn’t for CIRM
funding. Gladstone has received some $25 million, but the theme may be
that CIRM’s mission is bigger than one person.

On the other hand, in the context of past management shakeups at CIRM, comment from unidentified scientists posted on the California Stem Cell Report blog highlights issues:

"CIRM’s inability to retain Dr. Csete is tragic. … With Dr.
Csete’s departure, CIRM immediately loses much of its credibility as an
organization that puts good science, not politics, first. CIRM needs to
pull itself together, decide that high ethical standards and strong
scientific leadership are its highest priories, and clean house

Another comment from the California Stem Cell Report:

"If CIRM and the ICOC are continuing to focus on basic biology
studies, at the expense of preclinical work, even as it might apply to
the upcoming Disease Team Grants, then I, were I in Dr. Csete’s shoes,
would also leave.”

Says John Simpson, a frequent CIRM critic at Consumer Watchdog:

"I’d say her departure after such a short tenure — and with no clear indication of where she is headed next — speaks volumes about CIRM’s management. Or should I say, mismanagement.

"One doesn’t walk away from a $310,000 a year job at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) without a very good reason. Members of CIRM’s oversight board, the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC), must demand an explanation from Chairman Bob Klein and President Alan Trounson."

Consumer Watchdog
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