“I started discussing with my family what might be next, including taking a break to spend more time with them. However, fate had other plans.
“In February I received a call from CIRM asking if I was interested in the President and CEO position. Having spent the past five years as a grant reviewer for CIRM, I was already quite familiar with the stem cell agency. If you believe in the potential of regenerative medicine and cell therapy as I do, there is no place in the world you could go to have a bigger impact. No company, no other state, not even a country can have the impact California can have in bringing these treatments to patients. And so with that, I accepted the challenge.”
“First, will what we are doing speed up the development of stem cell treatments for patients? Second, will it increase the likelihood of a successful treatment reaching patients? Third, is it for an unmet medical need? And lastly is it efficient?”
“For CIRM to achieve its full potential, I firmly believe we need to remain focused on bringing treatments to patients, fast. Everyone loves that word, ‘focus.’ However, what they may not love is living with its reciprocal, which is everything else we don't do. Without focus, you never have to have the hard conversation. You never have to say ‘no.’ However, without focus, you also tend to not get things done. I came to CIRM to get stem cell treatments to patients in need, and that means focus.”
“CIRM exists under the principle of ‘If not for us....’ California stepped up when, and most importantly because, others would not. Funding something here-and-now that will otherwise get done without CIRM is not consistent with what the people of California wanted to accomplish with Proposition 71(which created the agency). It also violates my third rule, because it wouldn't really be an unmet need if it were going to happen in any event.
“We are here to help get stem cell treatments that, if not for us, would take longer to reach patients or might not happen at all. If you look at the projects we support that are now heading into clinical trials, many would never have even gotten off the ground if it hadn't been for us.”