Monday, May 05, 2014

New California Stem Cell CEO Begins Work May 15

C. Randal Mills, a man who has spent his entire professional life in the private sector, will take over on May 15 as the new president of the state of California's $3 billion stem cell agency.
Mills, 42, was named last week to succeed Alan Trounson, a longtime academic researcher who is leaving to return to his family in Australia. Mills, former CEO of Osiris Therapeutics of Maryland, is scheduled to begin half-time work in 10 days at the stem cell headquarters in San Francisco. At that point, Trounson will be designated as a senior scientific advisor to the agency. Mills' work will initially be half-time while he works out his move from Maryland.

The news from the agency, which is formally known as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), came along with more details about Mills' employment agreement, including provisions that deal with outside activities that he might pursue.

Randy Mills (left) and Jonathan Thomas
CIRM photo
The information was contained in an “offer letter” from CIRM Chairman Jonathan Thomas to Mills, dated and signed by both men on April 28, two days before the agency governing board ratified its terms(see here and here). The letter was provided by the agency at the request of the California Stem Cell Report. The full text can be found at the end of this item.

As reported previously, Mills' annual salary will total $550,000, compared to the $490,008 earned by Trounson. Mills' total compensation at Osiris was $554,750 in 2013, according to company filings with the federal government. He left Osiris in December 2013 for “personal reasons.”

offer letter provided for $95,000 in relocation and travel costs for house-hunting and moving. Mills is also entitled to reimbursement for meals and temporary housing for 60 days, contingent on approval by the state Personnel Administration Department. That would amount to $40 a day for meals and $178 a day for lodging. That could run up to $13,080 if the full 60 days are used.

Mills' agreement with CIRM allows him to use his “personal time and resources” to engage in outside activities that are compatible with his CIRM duties. Those outside activities include service on boards of for-profit companies, which can be lucrative, as well as service on non-profit boards. The agreement stipulates that such service be disclosed to the chairman of the board and that he confirm that the service is compatible with Mills' role as president.

Mills, who goes by the nickname Randy, is subject to the agency's conflict of interest policy which requires him to divest himself of any investments in companies that devote more than 5 percent of their research budget to stem cell research. In addition to the policy, Mills is required by state law to disclose his economic interests generally and is subject to the agency's “incompatible activities statement”(see below) and the “employee conflict of interest code.”

Mills will serve at the pleasure of the board. However, if the board fires him “without cause” within 36 months, he will be entitled to six months salary.. The agency's offer letter also said,
“You shall not be entitled to any payment if the (governing) board terminates you for cause, including knowing violation of state conflict of interest law and/or CIRM policy, willful or corrupt misconduct or a criminal conviction.”

The offer letter said the effective date of the appointment is June 2. However, Kevin McCormack, senior director of public communications, said last week that stipulation has been modified to reflect the May 15 start. McCormack said Trounson will serve as a scientific advisor to CIRM to June 30 “to help shepherd through a number of projects and commitments he has made.” Presumably that would include the closed-door review of applications in the $80 million Alpha stem cell clinic plan, which is scheduled to be acted on by the CIRM board later this year.

Here is the text of the April 28 offer letter and the agency's incompatible activities statement. 

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