Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Former Novocell/JDRF Chief Hooking Up With CIRM

Alan Lewis, the fomer head of Novocell (now ViaCyte, Inc.) and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, will be joining the $3 billion California stem cell agency shortly, the California Stem Cell Report has learned.

It is not clear what his responsibilities will include or whether he will be serving as a consultant or on staff. The agency has been seeking a vice president for research and development for nearly a year.

CIRM President Alan Trounson created the vice president's position after Marie Csete resigned abruptly as CIRM's chief scientific officer about 12 months ago. Trounson said he would not fill the post of chief scientific officer. Instead, Trounson came up with the new VP position and said he would seek someone with industry experience. He seemed to have a candidate ready this spring. The CIRM board convened closed-door meetings to discuss compensation for the post, but the sessions ended with no announcement.

Lewis, however, could be filling another position either on staff or as an outside consultant. Lewis resigned as head of JDRF in May for personal reasons. He said he would be returning to Southern California to be with his family.

He joined JDRF in January 2010. He served as president of Novocell from 2006 until he left for the foundation. CIRM Chairman Robert Klein has also been involved in juvenile diabetes issues and was recognized in 2006 as “public service leader of the year” by JDRF. After Lewis left Novocell, it received a $20 million loan from the agency. ViaCyte/Novocell has received four awards from CIRM for a total of $26.3 million.

We queried CIRM concerning Lewis. The agency was noncommital. Lewis could not be reached for comment.

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