Saturday, September 01, 2012

California Stem Cell Agency: A New Board Member and a New Vacancy

The chairs are shifting a tad on the governing board of the $3 billion California stem cell agency as a French immigrant is added, a Latino leaves and a veteran patient advocate is reappointed.

Coming on board for next week's meeting is Anne-Marie Duliege, chief medical officer of Affymax Inc., of Palo Alto, a publicly traded biopharmaceutical company that deals with kidney disease. Leaving is David Serrano Sewell, who has been named to the state Medical Board by Gov. Jerry Brown. Reappointed is Jeff Sheehy, an HIV/AIDs patient advocate who may be the most public face of patient advocates on the stem cell agency.

Anne-Marie Duliege
Affymax Photo
State Controller John Chiang appointed Duliege to the CIRM post, saying
“Dr. Duliege brings first-hand knowledge of what is required to take a drug from research phase through FDA approval.”
In May, Duliege made a presentation to the Bioscience Forum in South San Francisco called “Beating the Odds,” a discussion of Affymax's first commercial product. According to information posted by the group, Duliege led the way by shepherding it through a 10-month gauntlet at the FDA.

Duliege has been with Affymax since 2007. Her prior positions included time at Chiron and Genentech. She is a practicing physician, working part-time, and received her medical degree from Paris Medical School.

Affymax has had a previous tie to the stem cell agency. Ted Love, one of the initial members of the CIRM board, also sits on the Affymax board of directors. Indeed, Duliege fills the seat vacated by Love when he resigned from the CIRM board. The position must be filled by an officer of a California life science company.  

David Serrano Sewell
CIRM Photo
Serrano Sewell, who has also served on the CIRM board since its inception, is apparently resigning to accept an appointment to the board that regulates California physicians. Apparently – because the stem cell agency has not confirmed that he is leaving, although this morning it placed a resolution honoring him on the agenda for next week's meeting.  That almost invariably means a board member is departing.

Serrano Sewell, an attorney for the city of San Francisco, was one of 10 patient advocate members on the 29-member board. Sewell was apppointed by the California lieutenant governor. His seat will remain vacant until the current lieutenant governor, Gavin Newsom, makes an appointment, who must also be a patient advocate.

Jeff Sheehy
CIRM Photo
Sheehy was reappointed recently by state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. Sheehy is a communications manager at UC San Francisco and a nationally known HIV/AIDS advocate. He is co-chairman of CIRM's Science Subcommittee and vice chairman of the grants review group. Sheehy leads the discussion of grant applications when they come before the full board in public session.

With the latest shuffling, the board has essentially lost its only African-American member – Ted Love. Eugene Washington, dean of the UCLA medical school, is a member of the board but never attends the meetings. Instead he sends a surrogate. Serrano Sewell's departure brings the number of Hispanics to three, co-vice chairman Art Torres, Francisco Prieto and Marcy Feit. No Asians sit on the board.

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