Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Csete Discloses Reasons for Resignation: Lack of Respect at CIRM

Nature magazine reported today that Marie Csete says she resigned as chief scientific officer of the $3 billion California stem cell agency because her advice was not respected.

Reporter Erika Check Hayden quoted Csete as saying,
"When it became clear to me that my considered clinical advice was not respected, I concluded that it made no sense for me to stay at CIRM."
Hayden also wrote,
“When Csete left Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, to join CIRM in March 2008, she gave up her lab and divorced her husband John Doyle. He is a professor at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, an institution she would be inviting to apply for research funding and so needed to avoid contravening state conflict-of-interest laws. 'We were willing to sacrifice a lot for me to be in a position to make a positive impact at CIRM,' she says. 'I wanted to see it to the end.'
Hayden continued,
“Csete says she hopes her leaving will mark 'a new start' for the agency. 'I had tried everything I could to change what I think needed to change from the inside, and that was not going to happen,' she says. 'I felt I would have more impact by stepping away and advising the leadership of the board on my way out about ways to revise the structure and management of the agency to make it more optimal.'"
Csete's departure is likely to come up a teleconference meeting of the full CIRM board early tomorrow evening. The board is scheduled to consider a plan, posted this evening, to bolster support for the CIRM board. The meeting was called following a contentious session in San Diego earlier this month during which a number of “festering” issues surfaced.

In a reaction earlier to Csete's announcement, CIRM Chairman Robert Klein said he planned to contact each board member to discuss the matter, raising the possibility that he would be engaged in an illegal serial meeting.

We queried James Harrison, outside counsel to CIRM, about the plan. He replied last week,
“There will be no serial meeting -- the discussion will occur at our next meeting.”
Harrison referred to tomorrow's teleconference meeting.

We also asked Don Gibbons, chief communications officer for CIRM, whether Csete had a contract or was given severance from her $310,000-a-year job. He replied that she had neither. We asked Gibbons this evening whether CIRM has any comments on the Nature article today. He has not yet responded.

The public can take part in the tomorrow's meeting at teleconference locations in San Francisco (4), Los Angeles (4), Duarte, Sacramento, Elk Grove, La Jolla, Healdsburg, Irvine, Berkeley, Palo Alto, Stanford and Tucson, Ariz. See the agenda for specific addresses. Sphere: Related Content

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