Sunday, February 13, 2005

Just Call Him Scoop

Reporter Carl Hall of the San Francisco Chronicle seems to have beaten his rivals at other California newspapers with a story that Zach W. Hall of the University of Southern California is the leading candidate to become the interim executive of the California stem cell agency.

Hall – the potential big cheese for CIRM, not the writer – is currently the medical research dean at USC. The Chronicle's report describes him as “a veteran neuroscientist, medical-school administrator and biotech entrepreneur.”

Also in the running is cell biologist Melissa Carpenter, a principal investigator at the Robarts Research Institute in London, Ontario.

According to writer Hall, Dean Hall was one four scientific founders and the former chief executive of a Massachusetts company called EnVivo Pharmaceuticals. It was created in 2001 to develop new treatments for diseases of the nervous system.

“The company apparently has no projects involving stem cell research,” Hall reported.

The Chronicle also quoted colleagues of the 67-year-old Hall as describing him as a “gifted administrator.”

“Hall was recruited to California from Harvard in 1976 to join the faculty at UCSF, where he was head of neurobiology and chair of the physiology department. From 1994 to 1997, Hall took a leave from UCSF to serve as director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a part of the NIH.

“He returned to full-time duty at UCSF and became vice chancellor for research in 1998. Hall helped direct the gargantuan planning effort that went into UCSF's Mission Bay campus, a 43-acre project along San Francisco's southern bay shore. Mission Bay is one of several possible locations around the state for the new stem cell institute's headquarters,” the Chronicle said.

Writer Hall said that the dean is not expected to be selected as the permanent chief of the agency. It was not clear whether there was any relationship between the writer and the dean but unlikely.

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