Sunday, December 01, 2013

California Stem Cell CEO Search: Non-Scientist Candidates Quite Welcome

The $3 billion California stem cell agency could well have a non-scientist as its new president as it pushes to develop commercial products and develop future funding sources for the nine-year-old research enterprise.

Directors of the agency meet next week to settle on the criteria for the new CEO, who directors would like to see in place as soon as possible. Specifically missing from the board's latest wish list is a requirement that the individual be a scientist or researcher. Instead, the criteria say candidates should have “experience with and personal commitment to medical and scientific research including familiarity with stem cell research.”

In terms of academic credentials, the proposed criteria specify either or both an M.D. or Ph.D. degree or “equivalent industry experience or similar body of knowledge developed in professional roles.”

That sort of broad description could mean several things. One is that the board already has a candidate in mind and directors don't want to hampered by perceptions that only a scientist can run CIRM, as the agency is known. The description also significantly widens the field of possible candidates, virtually inviting non-scientists to apply for the position, which carries a salary of up to $548,788 annually.

The criteria, however, make it clear that candidates should be heavyweights in development of scientific products. The agency wants tested leaders of scientific organizations, experience with R&D, including the regulatory process for development of new treatments, and persons who have no problem shutting down projects that aren't going anywhere.

The latest job description for the person to replace CIRM President Alan Trounson, an internationally known scientist, came together after an earlier meeting of the board's Presidential Search Subcommittee, which will review and perhaps modify it at a public meeting Dec. 10 in Los Angeles. Then the full board will act on it during its two-day meeting Dec. 11-12, also in Los Angeles.

Teleconference locations for both public meetings can be found on their agendas, which are here and here.

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