Monday, June 27, 2011

Stem Cell Agency's New Chief Heads for BIO

Jon Thomas (right) presided briefly at the end of the CIRM board meeting last week on a resolution
 honoring outgoing Chairman Robert Klein (left). Co-vice
Chairman Art Torres is in the center of the photo. 
SAN DIEGO, Ca. – The newly minted chairman of the $3 billion California stem cell agency kicks off his first full week today with a trip to the mammoth BIO convention in Washington, D.C., to spread the word about CIRM and learn about the latest the biotech industry has to offer.

Jonathan Thomas, who won his $400,000-a-year post on a 14-11 vote by the CIRM board here last week, told the California Stem Cell Report last Thursday that for the next couple of weeks he will be "generally setting up shop." The Los Angeles bond financier expects to spend some time at CIRM headquarters in San Francisco following the BIO meeting.

Once past the initial stages, he estimated that he would be spending one to two days a week in San Francisco and more as needed. He said there is "no substitute for a personal presence."

One of his priorities, he said, will be trying to "get the facts out to the public" about CIRM. In a statement to the CIRM board last Wednesday, he said the agency is engaged in "a communications war." He said CIRM's successes are not well-known.

As for the BIO convention, it is the premier biotech industry event of the year with about 15,000 attendees and 17,000 "business partnering meetings." Presumably other CIRM executives will be attending the session in addition to Thomas.

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