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Klein Reelected as Chair of California Stem Cell Institute

16 December 2010 11:39 am
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The board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has reelected its founding chair Robert Klein for a second term. Yesterday, Klein reiterated to the board his previous statement (pdf) that he would serve only for a maximum of 6 months, until a suitable replacement can be found. "At 180 days, I will need to resign at that time even if that process is not complete," Klein said just before the vote, which was unanimous except for one abstention.

Klein spearheaded the drive to pass the 2004 ballot measure that authorized $3 billion in sales of state bonds to fund stem cell research in California. He had said previously he would step down when his term expires on 17 December. But earlier this month, Klein's pick to succeed him, Canadian scientist Alan Bernstein, withdrew because of concerns that state law forbids a non-U.S. citizen from holding the job. (It's not clear whether that's actually true.) Klein then said he would stay on temporarily, if elected, but would not receive compensation for the position, which can pay up to $529,000.

The lone abstention was CIRM board member and HIV/AIDS activist Jeff Sheehy, himself a candidate for vice-chair. Before the vote, he voiced approval for the views of state controller John Chiang, who earlier this week wrote a letter calling the chair selection process "fundamentally flawed" and urging the board to postpone the election and start over. Sheehy also asked that no one vote for him for vice-chair. No one did.

Instead, the current vice-chairs, Art Torres, former state senator, and Duane Roth, CEO of Alliance Pharmaceutical Corp., were reelected.

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