Monday, July 19, 2010

Whither Wechsler-Reya? A $6 Million Stem Cell Tale

Is a high-flying stem cell researcher from Duke coming to California to claim his $6 million grant from the state's $3 billion stem cell agency?

Can the prestigious Sanford-Burnham Institute in tony La Jolla, Ca., lure him and his wife away from their spots at the Gothic Wonderland, as Duke University is sometimes known?

The answers to these and other questions are still a mystery despite a quasi-deadline for the giveaway imposed by the 29 directors of the Californa Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

The will-they or won't-they matter involves Robert Wechsler-Reya and Tannishtha Reya, another Duke researcher.

The couple is being or has been recruited by Sanford-Burnham with the help of the multimillion dollar grant from California taxpayers. Directors of the state stem cell agency approved the award in April.

At the time, directors appeared to be initially unaware that the deal was not done. Wechsler-Reya told the California Stem Cell Report that he had not made up his mind on whether he would become a latter-day California argonaut.

According to the transcript of the April 29 CIRM board meeting, Chairman Robert Klein said he wanted a “definitive time” for conclusion of the Wechsler-Reya recruitment. CIRM President Alan Trounson said that Sanford-Burnham said it would be finished by the end of June. He told directors,
“We're reassured that that will be the case.”
Sanford-Burnham has announced other hires this month, but did not mention the Duke researchers. Earlier this month, we asked CIRM about the situation.

Amy Adams, communications manager for the agency, replied on July 1,
“The deadline in the RFA is for funding to start within six months after ICOC approval. At the ICOC meeting, there was agreement that it would be desirable to know Dr. Wechsler-Reya's decision before the next review so that we know how many slots remain, and the hiring institution agreed that would be reasonable. It was also stated that we hoped to have the recruitment resolved by the end of June, which has not happened.”
Wechsler-Reya has not responded to a request for comment. We are asking both him and CIRM again about the matter. Sphere: Related Content

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