Thursday, August 05, 2010

Extremely Modest Coverage of Wechsler-Reya Signing; Status of Tannishtha Unclear

The signing of Duke stem cell “star” Robert Wechsler-Reya generated only one news story in California and none in North Carolina, where Duke is located, according to a Google/Yahoo search today on the Internet.

Other search engines, including Dogpile(an aggregator of search engines) and Bing, reported no stories on the successful multimillion dollar recruitment of the researcher to the Sanford-Burnham institute in La Jolla.

The lone article appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune. Reporter Gary Robbins did not quote any officials from CIRM, which put up nearly $6 million as a signing bonus for Wechsler-Reya. But Robbins did specifically mention the agency and its recruitment program in the second paragraph.

Robbins quoted Josh Baxt, a spokesman for Sanford-Burnham, as saying,
"This is exactly what the award was meant to do: serve as a magnet. Dr. Wechsler-Reya is an ace, a star, who left a tenured post at Duke University to come here. We're very happy to get him."
The story said that Wechsler-Reya will be director of a 20-investigator tumor development program.

Robbins quoted the researcher as saying via email,
"I chose to move to Sanford-Burnham because of the diverse and vibrant research community there, and because of the tremendous resources the Institute offers for doing the kind of science I feel is important.

"The move will allow me to interact and collaborate with world-class cancer biologists and stem cell biologists, not only at SBMRI but in the broader San Diego area. I'm really excited about this opportunity, and look forward to being there."
We queried Sanford-Burnham yesterday concerning Wechsler-Reya's start date and the status of his spouse, Tannishtha Reya, also a Duke stem cell researcher.

A CIRM summary of the Weschler-Reya grant review last spring said,
“Reviewers also noted that the applicant institution has committed to recruiting the candidate's spouse, who is an independent stem cell scientist; this represents a particularly beneficial leveraging of award funds.”
Baxt replied by email,
“Dr. Wechsler-Reya will be starting around November 1. We cannot comment on Tannishtha Reya at this point.”
Neither scientist has responded to our queries regarding Reya's status with Sanford-Burnham.

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