Thursday, December 02, 2010

Bernstein Drops Out of Race for CIRM Chair

Efforts by CIRM Chairman Robert Klein to engineer the election of Alan Bernstein as his successor at the $3 billion California stem cell agency collapsed today when Bernstein withdrew from the race, the California Stem Cell Report has been told.

The move followed yesterday's disclosure (see here and here) of a closed-door meeting Sunday at a Portola Valley restaurant attended by only five of the 29 directors of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Klein presented a plan at the meeting that would have made Bernstein an “executive chairman” of CIRM. Klein was also reportedly lobbying major state officials such as the governor to win backing for Bernstein. One of the board members attending the session, Jeff Sheehy, complained publicly about the meeting, describing it as a “horrible" way to pick a new chair.

Queried via email, Bernstein, head of HIV Global Vaccine Enterprise of New York, said,
"I am very busy at an HIV vaccine meeting and unable to offer a comment at this time."
Bernstein recently chaired the blue-ribbon panel that  recently conducted a sweeping review of CIRM's operations.

CIRM directors must pick their chair from candidates nominated by four of California's constitutional officers: the governor, lieutenant governor, treasurer and controller. Bernstein was nominated Tuesday by the lieutenant governor. Art Torres, co-vice chair of the CIRM governing board, was nominated yesterday by the controller. The state treasurer yesterday said he would not make a nomination because of the ruckus over Bernstein. The governor is yet to be heard from.

We will have more on this shortly.

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