Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Text of Trounson Letter Re Resignation

Last week the California Stem Cell Report emailed Alan Trounson concerning his continued tenure as president of the California stem cell agency. (See here for the earlier main story on his resignation late today.) The query noted that he had missed some meetings of the governing board of the agency and had been away for three months in Australia earlier this year, among other things. Here is the text of his response.
“I missed the May and October Board Meetings. In May, I was completing as Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board review of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine, Muenster, Germany. In October, I was invited along with 50 other leading scientists from around the world to speak and participate in the Nature Medicine Conference on Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine in Hanover – Issues to Solve for Biology and Medical Applications. This was a critical global meeting for CIRM to be represented at. On both occasions I requested the Board meeting be moved to enable me to be there but this was not possible. In both cases the Chair agreed I should attend the activities in Germany.
“Between Christmas and the end of February, I was in Australia but worked for CIRM for 50% of this time, excluding holidays, on reports, meetings (teleconferences, SKYPE conferences), articles for scientific journals for CIRM and meetings with collaborating partners and grantees there. I returned to San Francisco in mid-February for the Genomics GWG Review. I returned to Australia for my daughter’s wedding and then returned to San Francisco at the end of February. Dr Ellen Feigal and I were in continual communications while I was away and CIRM worked very smoothly and efficiently under her management and my guidance.
“When I was asked to become President, by Governor Schwarzenegger and previous Chairman Bob Klein,  I made a commitment to them for CIRM.  I did that with the understanding that my partner Karin and our young son could be with me in California.  They did move here for 3 years, but it turned out to be impossible for Karin to continue her career in women’s health research at a Californian university.  For her to work at any California institution would have created too many conflict issues, either because of the rules or because of 'appearance' concerns. Karin and our young son moved back to Australia, and I moved to an apartment 2 blocks from CIRM.  I work seven days a week for CIRM in the absence of my family. I have a 12-year old son who misses me terribly for the last 2.5 years we have been separated (as do the other 3 older children).  I have sacrificed considerable personal family rewards to continue to commit to driving CIRMs vision.
“The whole 'evaluation of the president' process with the board has always seemed (to me) to drag on forever with meeting after meeting.  I have not attended any of this year’s meetings, but my dialog with them has been about evaluating whether my role at CIRM could be modified in some way to accommodate my families needs.  Duane Roth was the key person for me in those discussions, as he was on so many issues.  It has taken some time to regroup after his untimely death and enable this to move forward again.”
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