Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Top Exec Departs from California Stem Cell Agency

The No. 2 person at the $3 billion California stem cell agency resigned this week, becoming the fifth person to leave the research enterprise since Randy Mills became president last spring.

Ellen Feigal
CIRM photo
Ellen Feigal gave two weeks notice on Monday that she would be departing as senior vice president for research and development.  The No. 3 person at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), as the agency is formally known, left last July and has not been replaced.

The agency staff now numbers 54.

Asked today whether Michelle Williams, the former chief scientific officer of Mills’ previous firm, Osiris Therapeutics of Maryland, would replace Feigal, a spokesman for the agency, Kevin McCormack, said,
 “I can say categorically that Ellen will not be replaced, by Michelle Williams or anyone else.”
Williams was at Osiris Therapeutics in Maryland while Mills was president of the publicly traded business. Williams left Osiris in March. She is now listed on Linked In as a consultant. Williams is also on the panel of scientists who review CIRM grant applications.

Elona Baum, who was general counsel and vice president for business development, left her position in July to join Coherus BioSciences of Redwood City, Ca., as vice president and associate general counsel.  McCormack said discussions are “ongoing” about whether her position will be filled.

McCormack said that Feigal “decided that this is a good time to leave and pursue other opportunities.” McCormack reported,
In an email to staff she wrote: ‘It’s been an amazing four years.  I am proud of what’s been accomplished under my leadership for the research and development programs, none of which would have been possible without all of the contributions you each made.’"
No public mention of Feigal’s imminent departure was made at the agency’s governing board meeting last Thursday.

In addition to Feigal and Baum, those who have left include Natalie DeWitt, former special projects officer for former CIRM President Alan Trounson. She joined Stanford University. Others are Celeste Heidler,  a financial services officer who retired, and Ian Sweedler, an attorney who joined the Moore Foundation.  

No job openings are currently listed on the CIRM Web site. 


  1. Anonymous3:24 PM

    Did this come to pass? No updates on the CIRM website in the form of a press release and no changes to the CIRM leadership page.

  2. In response to a query from an anonymous reader, Ellen Feigal left as she said she would.

  3. Anonymous9:00 AM

    Only today, November 14, has the CIRM leadership web page been updated to reflect the departure (effective November 10) of the #2 person at the $3 billion CA government agency. So much for transparency.

    Thank you David for keeping the public informed.


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