Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Klein Makes It Official -- His Last Day is June 23

Robert Klein, the first and only chairman of the $3 billion California stem cell agency, has officially resigned effective June 23.

His resignation came in a May 10 letter to the statewide officials who are responsible for nominating candidates for chair of the unprecedented research effort, which is generally regarded as the single largest source of funding in the world for human embryonic stem cell research.

Klein's resignation letter is significant because he has talked about leaving his post at earlier dates several times in the past but never has. His May 10 letter makes it official.

The governor, treasurer, controller and lieutenant governor are expected to make their nominations on Monday, if not sooner. The board is expected to choose among the candidates to fill Klein's slot at its meeting in San Diego June 23.

Klein has served six-and-a-half years as chair of the 29-member CIRM board of directors. His letter mentions eight years of work. That includes the time that he and a handful of others spent writing the 10,000-word ballot initiative, Prop. 71, that created the stem cell agency. It also includes his direction of the 2004 statewide electoral campaign on behalf of Prop. 71.

Here is the text of Klein's letter.
"It has been my honor to serve as the Chairman of the Governing Board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (“CIRM”) for the last six and a half years. With your support and the support of the other constitutional officers and the Legislature, we have made great strides towards achieving our goal of finding therapies and cures for Californians who suffer from chronic disease and injury. Just last week, CIRM’s Governing Board approved a loan to Geron, a California company, to support a human clinical trial involving the use of embryonic stem cells to treat individuals with spinal cord injury. We expect that CIRM’s Disease Team Research Awards, which were approved last year, will lead to additional human clinical trials within the next 24 months.

"Having spent the last eight years of my life dedicated to the cause of stem cell research, I remain deeply committed to CIRM’s mission. When I .,agreed to be considered for a second term, however, I made it clear that, in light of my personal and professional obligations, I could only serve six months. I am therefore writing to submit this letter of resignation from my position as the Chair of the Governing Board of CIRM, effective at the close of business on June 23, 2011."

"Thank you for your leadership and support of stem cell research. I strongly believe the advances of California’s stem cell scientists and clinicians will profoundly reduce the future of human suffering from chronic illness and injury."
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