Sunday, June 05, 2011

Litvack Envisions Oversight Role for CIRM Chair, Shoring Up 'Messaging' and Industry Ties

Frank Litvack
Los Angeles cardiologist/businessman Frank Litvack, a candidate for chair of the $3 billion California stem cell agency, says he regards the job as part-time and says that the chair should not be involved in day-to-day management.

His comments (see the full text below) were made Friday to the CIRM directors' Evaluation Subcommittee. Litvack said,
 "My  belief  is  that  the  chairman’s  role  is  best   accomplished  by  a  leader  on  a  part-­‐time  basis.    An  organization  that   has  two  chief  executives  carries  with  it  the  intrinsic  potential  for   serious  challenges."
By law (Prop. 71), CIRM has a dual executive arrangement with overlapping responsibilities for the chairman and the president. The arrangement has stirred controversy and criticism and has led to public disputes between the two executives in the past.

Litvack made the text of his remarks available at the request of the California Stem Cell Report. Jonathan Thomas, a Los Angeles bond financier and the other candidate for CIRM chair, did not respond to an identical request. (Thomas later said the request had been diverted by his email spam filter and sent the text on June 6. It can be found here.)   CIRM directors will vote later this month on the two men.

Thomas reportedly favors continuation of the current dual executive structure and is more inclined towards a fulltime role, along with a larger salary. The CIRM board earlier this spring identified a range of $137,500 to $400,000 annually for the job with no more than an 80 percent commitment.

Litvack said,
"The  role  of  the  president  is  daily  management.  He  or  she  must  be  free   to  pursue  this  role  without  encumbrance.  The  function  of  chairman,   on  the  other  hand,  is  not  day  to  day  management,  rather  it  is  to   articulate  the  vision  of  the  organization  and  represent  the   organization  to  outside  parties."
Litvack also said CIRM's most strategic imperative is "to get new products into the clinic."

He sketched out several initiatives for CIRM, including a "core expertise in pre-clinical and regulatory affairs." Litvack said,
"It (the agency)   may  consider  developing  a  publicly  available  repository  of  expertise   and  data  so  as  to  assure  that  each  new  IND  applicant  is  not reinventing  the  wheel  and  wasting  precious  time  and  money.     Stepped  up  collaboaration  with  other  organizations  devoted  to  the   promotion  of  innovation  and  translation  including  the  passionate   and  commited  disease  advocate  community,  the  clinical  researchers   as  well  as  with  FDA  and  other  regulatory  agencies  would  be  of   strategic  and  tactical  value.    CIRM  leadership  must  take  a  pivotal   role  in  facilitating  the  interactions  of  therapy  innovators  with   the  FDA.  While  CIRM  will  always  stand  for  safety,  however,  when  it   comes  to  critical  and  life- threatening  illnesses,  patients  should   have  a  more  active  role  in  their  therapeutic  options."
Litvack also discussed the need to "shore up" CIRM's "messaging" and its relationship with industry. He said, "
The  public  is  waiting  to  hear  what  is  being   done  with  their  money.    Patients  are  waiting  to  hear  when  exactly  it   is  that  science  will  deliver  what  they  have  been  waiting  for."
As for industry, which has been unhappy with its meager share of CIRM largess, Litvack said,
"The  cell  therapy  industry  is  nascent, and  the  capital  markets  have   not  recently  been  kind  to  it.   CIRM  needs  to  shore  up  its  commercial   relationships,  as  most  new  therapies  will  require  the  private  sector  ."
Here is the full text of Litvack's comments on Friday.
Remarks by Frank Litvack to the CIRM Evaluation Subcommittee 6-3-11 Sphere: Related Content

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