Wednesday, January 14, 2015

California Stem Cell Agency Seeks Five Executives in $3 Billion Program

California’s $3 billion stem cell agency has embarked on a wave of fresh hiring of well-paid executives to fill top slots in the new structure created by Randy Mills, who has been the chief executive of the program since last May.

Five positions are open with salary ranges that hit $244,204 annually.  All of the announcements are emblazoned with the new CIRM 2.0 logo, emphasizing the “radical” changes underway at the agency. The program is formally known as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine or CIRM.

The postings amount to the largest number of top level positions opening at the agency in a number of years, perhaps the largest since its inception 10 years ago.  Total employment at research funding program is slightly more than 50 persons and is not expected to increase significantly.

The open positions include “directors” in the following areas:  medical affairs and stem cell centers, blood and cancer therapeutics, neuro/ocular therapeutics, organ systems therapeutics and administration, which includes everything from public relations to information technology.

The agency’s governing board in December approved Mills’ reorganization with little discussion. He said it would flatten the organization, making it speedier and more efficient.

The new structure eliminated a number of positions, including that of Ellen Feigal, who was senior vice president for research and development, then the No. 2 position at the agency. She resigned last October, giving two weeks notice. At the time, she was the fifth person to leave the agency following the hiring of Mills.

Under Mills’ organization, the agency does not have a No. 2 person or a chief scientific officer. The chief scientific officer position was eliminated years ago, although it is common in many biotech companies.

Here is a look at some of what the new positions entail:

Director, Medical Affairs and Stem Cell Centers: Oversight of “the Alpha Stem Cell Clinics, the CIRM Stem Cell Genomics Centers of Excellence, and the CIRM hiPSC Initiative with a total budget of over $90 million.”

Director, Blood and Therapeutic Area: Oversight of more than “20 active programs and a budget of over $200 million. Projects in the therapeutic area range from translational research through human clinical trials.”

Director, Neuro/Ocular Therapeutic Area: This area “currently has over 25 active programs and a budget of over $200 million. Projects in the therapeutic area range from translational research through human clinical trials.”

Director, Organ Systems Therapeutic Area: This involves more than “25 active programs and a budget of over $200 million. Projects in the therapeutic area range from translational research through human clinical trials.” 

Director, Administration:  Oversight of Communications, Information Technology (IT), and Human Resource departments; “Importantly, the Director is also responsible for managing all Governing Board activities and communications.”

All of the positions have a salary range of $167,877 to $244,204 and report directly to Mills.

No deadline exists for filing applications. The announcements said applications will remain open until the positions are filled. Mills, however, moves with dispatch. Interested persons should submit applications quickly if they want to be considered.


  1. Without a CMO, it seems that CIRM is once again trying to do things their own way. Frankly I am disappointed that rather than trying to institute a biotech-like model that is needed to transform the academically-oriented organization of the last 10 years into a thriving agency that advances the fields of stem cells and regenerative medicine, Dr. Mills/CIRM is leaving a knowledge gap at the top that topples many ambitious start-ups that have great science but no clue on how to develop it into an approvable therapeutic agent. Had higher hopes for Dr. Mills based on his industry experience.

  2. Anonymous9:15 AM

    I think that Dr. Mills has the expertise to serve as a CMO. The question is if he has the time to do everything else he has to do for CIRM.

  3. Re the CMO-Mills question, I am assuming that the abbreviation stands for chief medical officer although it could be chief marketing officer. One would assume that the position would have to be filled with a physician. Mills has a Ph.D. in drug development from the University of Florida. Of course, what is more important is his 10 years at Osiris developing a stem cell therapy. That should provide a lot of skills appropriate for what an article in Nature called "the killing field" of clinical translation. Does CIRM need a CMO to oversee the 10 clinical trials in which it has invested? Hard to tell, but such a person might be stepping all over the researchers that the agency is funding. But CIRM does need top-notch No. 2 person to fill in for Mills if he is run over by a truck. That is probably more important than a CMO at this point. Here is a link to the Nature piece.


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