John M. Simpson, stem cell project director of Consumer Watchdog of Santa Monica, Ca., thinks so.
Simpson, who describes himself as a "fat, old white guy," says he doesn't have anything against such persons. But he warns about the perils of group-think when the top execs are cut from the same general mold.
Only one woman and no minorities hold top management positions at CIRM, which Simpson lists as chairman, vice chairman, president, vice president, chief scientific officer and chief communications officer.
Writing on his organization's blog, Simpson sees the hiring of John A. Robson of McGill as part of the influence of CIRM's old boys. Simpson cites the role of Richard Murphy, former CIRM director, former interim president and ongoing consultant, in recruiting Robson. Murphy also once worked at McGill.
Simpson also notes that former CIRM acting president Lori Hoffman had a falling out with Chairman Robert Klein last year and was "pushed out."
Simpson writes that with Zach Hall as president and Arlene Chiu as chief scientific officer, CIRM "had extensive experience on the grant-making and management side of the equation by virtue of their time at the National Institutes of Health. They knew something about holding grantees accountable."
"The Old Boys Club members' experience has been on the grant-receiving side -- and most of that in academia. Certainly some of the top executives at an agency charged with handing out $3 billion in scientific grants should have experience on the grant-making side. It's almost as if the henhouse is being taken over by the foxes."Simpson concludes:
"I fear the Old Boys Club is letting visions of playing on the international stage distract them from what is really CIRM's charge: Funding vital research and finding cures in California. The real danger of a having a management team that looks alike is that team members will think alike. Nobody will stand up and say, 'Wait a minute; just what are we doing here and why?'"