Saturday, February 23, 2013

City of Hope Exec Will Leave California Stem Cell Agency Board

Michael Friedman
City of Hope photo
The governing board of the $3 billion California stem cell agency will lose another one of its veteran members this year – Michael Friedman, the CEO of the City of Hope in the Los Angeles area.

He will join Claire Pomeroy in leaving the board. Pomeroy is resigning as vice chancellor of Human Health Services at UC Davis this spring to become president of the Lasker Foundation in New York.. Friedman is retiring at the end of this year.

Both have been on the CIRM board since its first meeting in December 2004. Pomeroy was appointed by the UC Davis chancellor. Friedman was appointed by the state treasurer.

No names have surfaced concerning likely successors. However, the UC Davis chancellor is required by law to appoint an executive officer from the campus. The new dean at the UCD medical school would seem to be the most likely candidate.

To fill Friedman's seat, Treasurer Bill Lockyer must appoint an executive officer from a California research institute. The tradition on the board has been for particular institutes to hold particular seats on the board. The major exception is the Salk Institute, which lost a seat on the board a few years back.

Both UC Davis and the City of Hope have benefited enormously from CIRM largess. UC Davis has received $131 million and the City of Hope $51 million. Although Friedman and Pomeroy have not been allowed to vote on grants to their institutions, their presence and the presence on the board of other executives from beneficiary institutions has triggered calls for sweeping changes at the agency.

A blue-ribbon report by the Institute of Medicine said “far too many” board members are linked to institutions that receive money from CIRM. The institute recommended that a new majority of independent members be created on the board.

According to compilations by the California Stem Cell Report, about 90 percent of the $1.8 billion the board has awarded has gone to institutions with ties to past and present board members. Fifteen of the 29 members of the board, which has no independent members along the lines suggested by the IOM, are linked to recipient institutions.

The agency has $700 million remaining before money for new awards runs out in less than four years.  

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