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.
"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