Monday, July 26, 2010

CIRM's New Interim VP for Research Takes Job with San Diego Firm

Only a little more than a month into his $250,000, six-month contract with CIRM, Alan Lewis has taken a job as CEO of the Ambit Biosciences of San Diego.

An anonymous reader alerted us this morning to Lewis' new post. (See the reader's comment to the left of this item under the heading “recent comments” or via the comments function on the “$250,000 Contract” item.) The reader makes the reasonable assumption that Lewis, former head of Novocell, will no longer be working part-time with the California stem cell agency. However, the full press release on Lewis' sort-of-new job does not mention the CIRM contract. We are asking both Lewis and the stem cell agency to clarify his status.

Lewis has served as executive chairman of Ambit since March, a fact not mentioned by CIRM when it announced his appointment as interim vice president of research and development. (Lewis told us that his executive chairmanship began in May. Today's Ambit news release says March.)

The anonymous reader also makes a good point concerning the amounts paid to CIRM contractors. The best talent costs money. But failing to effectively manage a $3 billion investment costs a lot more. Also readers should understand that the figures paid to independent contractors should be discounted by 35 to 50 percent if they are to be compared to conventional salaries. Standard pay figures do not include the cost of fringe benefits paid by employers, such as health insurance, retirement contributions, Social Security payments, etc. Depending on the company or government, those fringe benefits can run to 35 to 50 percent. In the case of individual contractors with CIRM, they must pay for those benefits themselves.

But regardless of the justification for spending large sums for outside contractors, California voters can be outraged by the amounts. Their reaction is visceral and emotional, a phenomena we discussed in this item. You can see examples of it on this blog on items dealing with salaries at CIRM and some outside contracts.

We also want to extend our personal thanks to the anonymous reader who brought Lewis' new job to our attention and that of our readers. We encourage comments from all readers, especially those bring fresh information to California stem cell matters.

1 comment:

  1. Don Gibbons, CIRM9:53 AM

    CIRM's president was informed of Mr. Lewis' new position Friday. From the outset the $250,000 salary was to be prorated based on days actually worked with the full amount assuming a five-day week. With his new position Mr. Lewis will scale back his time with CIRM from a planned two to three days a week to 2 to 3 days a month, and the salary will be prorated accordingly, while we continue the search for a VP for R&D.


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