Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ted Kennedy Backs Torres as CIRM Vice Chairman

Will the next vice chairman of the world's largest funding source for hESC research be Sen. Ted Kennedy's candidate or that of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger?

John M. Simpson
, stem cell project director for Consumer Watchdog of Santa Monica, Ca., disclosed Kennedy's endorsement of Art Torres, the head of the California Democratic Party, on the Consumer Watchdog blog last week.

Contesting Torres for the vice chairmanship of the $3 billion California Institute for Regenerative Medicine is Duane Roth, a current member of the CIRM board of directors, who was nominated by the Republican Schwarzenegger. Roth is also head of Connect, a San Diego area group supporting life science and technology businesses.

In a letter last month to CIRM Chairman Robert Klein, Kennedy said Torres is a friend of 37 years and declared that the former state lawmaker has an outstanding record of public service.

Torres' "years of advocacy for medical research and better health care for Californians will be a major asset" for CIRM, Kennedy said.

"A great deal is at stake," the Massachusetts Democrat said, "and I'm confident that Art Torres will make a difference for our country."

Simpson said he was not sure which candidate was best. Simpson wrote,
"The first task  for the ICOC (CIRM directors) is to define exactly what the vice chairman should be doing.  Both men need to offer a clear public statement of what he would bring to the position as well as his vision for the post." 
It is up to the 29-member CIRM board of directors to choose between Torres and Roth. No vote is yet scheduled.

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