Thursday, December 08, 2011

California Stem Cell Agency Approves $5.6 Million to Lure Harvard Researcher to Golden State

Directors of the California stem cell agency today approved a $5.6 million grant to bring a star researcher to California -- a Harvard scientist currently collaborating with a director of the stem cell agency.

The recipient is Zhigang He, who is negotiating with UC Berkeley, which also has a representative on the CIRM board, one who did not vote on the grant or speak during the discussion.

Responding to a query from the California Stem Cell Report, the researcher later said, "I am still talking to Berkeley about the details of my move."

Zhigang He
Harvard Photo
CIRM governing board Oswald Steward, director of the Reeve-Irvine Research Center, Anatomy & Neurobiology at the UC Irvine School of Medicine , was also disqualified from voting or participating in the discussion. He left the room, saying that he has been "directly collaborating with this person."

The name of the Harvard researcher was not mentioned prior to the vote on the grant, although a member of the public, patient advocate Don Reed, told directors he knew the applicant and recommended him highly.

The grant is part of a $44 million recruitment effort by CIRM. It has awarded about $11 million to bring two researchers to California institutions, both of which have representatives on the CIRM board.

(An earlier version of this item said Zhigang He "is slated to go to work" at UC Berkeley, based on comments at the CIRM board meeting.)

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