Monday, February 05, 2007

Thal Dies in Small Plane Crash

Leon Thal, a member of CIRM's Oversight Committee and a brilliant San Diego neuroscientist, died during the weekend when his small plane crashed in the Southern California mountains.

Thal, a longtime and skilled pilot, was the only person aboard when the plane went down Saturday night, according to a story in the San Diego Union-Tribune by Cheryl Clark and Sandra Dibble.

Thal, 62, was chairman of the neurosciences department at UC San Diego and had served as one of the 29-directors of CIRM since its inception two years ago. The San Diego newspaper wrote that Thal
"was one of the world's leading experts in the development of new therapies for Alzheimer's. He directed the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study, a consortium of more than 70 research centers in the United States and Canada that investigates experimental therapies. He also managed UCSD's Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer's Disease Research Center.

"Thal oversaw more than $100 million in federal research grants and was a collaborator on many others. He and his department had received millions of dollars in research funds over the past 30 years."
In 2004, Thal shared the $100,000 Potamkin Prize, one of the highest honors in neurosciences.

The San Diego paper quoted Henry Powell, a professor of pathology and chairman of the UC San Diego Senate academic senate, as saying of Thal:
"He was a skillful manager of strong-minded people, charming and diplomatic as well as visionary and persuasive."
Thal was appointed to the CIRM board by the governor.

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