Stem Cell Institute Names Interim President

SAN FRANCISCO, August 8, 2007 The governing board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) today named Richard A. Murphy, Ph.D. as its interim president. Dr. Murphy was a member of the CIRM board until July 1, 2007, when he retired as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. The appointment is effective September 1, 2007.

  Dr. Murphy will assume the position currently held by Lori Hoffman, who has served as the Institutes acting president since May, following the retirement of Zach W. Hall, Ph.D., in April. Hoffman will remain Chief Finance and Administrative Officer for the agency.

  “Dr. Richard Murphy has accepted the position of interim president for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine,” said Robert N. Klein, chairman of the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC). “Dr. Murphy’s commitment provides a great lift and support to the agencys momentum while it completes its search for a new permanent president. Although Dr. Murphy has made a commitment to his family to relocate to the east coast next year, he and his wife will relocate to San Francisco during this interim appointment to provide the hands-on leadership and inspiration that will allow the agency to broaden and deepen its research grant programs. The board is dedicated to recruiting a permanent president who can provide the global strategic leadership the position requires, under a long-term employment agreement. We are grateful that Dr. Murphy has agreed to assume this responsibility for a period up to the beginning of March, 2008, while we complete the search and transition to a new permanent president.”

  Klein stressed that “this interim appointment will allow our Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Arlene Chiu, to work with Dr. Murphy on a scientific transition program for the agency while advancing her new initiative to build junior research faculty at California institutions. She will also provide the strategic scientific guidance for the review of the competitive scientific merit of the major facilities grants during this time period. It will provide Lori Hoffman to focus on the $225 million in major facilities grants that we expect to approve early in 2008. These new research facilities are critical to fulfilling CIRM’s mission.”

  “I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to continue working with CIRM’s staff and governing board, in a new capacity, to help further the Institute’s mission of developing stem cell technology to treat chronic diseases,” said Dr. Murphy. “Significant progress has been made by CIRM’s board and staff, with the strong support of Governor Schwarzenegger and the state legislature, in overcoming legal challenges to Proposition 71, in designing scientific programs, and in funding stem cell research. My goal will be to accelerate that momentum further.”

  Dr. Murphy brings to the CIRM widely recognized scientific and administrative leadership. At Salk, he led strategic planning and fundraising exercises that resulted in the renovation of one-third of the Institute’s research space, the hiring of 16 new young investigators to further build its cancer, plant biology, and gene regulation programs, and the establishment of new scientific programs in chemistry, computational and theoretical biology, and stem cell research. He also recruited 24 new members to Salks Board of Trustees. A master planning exercise for Salk initiated by Murphy, now in the final stages of consideration by the City of San Diego, will enable the Institute to build facilities that will double its research and administrative space.

  Prior to joining the Salk Institute in 2000, Dr. Murphy was director of the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI) at McGill University, where he was also a professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery. During his eight years at the MNIs helm, he strengthened its molecular and cellular neuroscience capacity by hiring more than 20 new faculty members, establishing new research groups in key research areas, renovating more than 75,000 square feet of lab space, and constructing the 26,000 square-foot Brain Tumour Research Center. He also was a major player in a successful movement to restore government funding for basic research in Canada.

  Dr. Murphy received his doctorate in zoology at Rutgers University and a bachelor’s degree from the College of the Holy Cross. He conducted post-doctoral studies at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and began his academic career at the Harvard University Medical School’s Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy in 1976, with funding via a Sloan Fellowship and a NIH Career Development Award. At Harvard he won numerous teaching awards and conducted an active research program in neurotrophins, proteins that promote the growth and survival of nerve cells and appear to play a role in memory and neurodegenerative diseases.

  He left Harvard in 1986 to chair the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at Canadas University of Alberta. While continuing his laboratory research, he restructured that department and amassed a record of achievement that led to his MNI/McGill appointment.

As interim president of the CIRM, Dr. Murphy will serve as a consultant for up to six months and will be paid $300,000 for his services. As an independent contractor, Dr. Murphy will not be entitled to any health or retirement benefits from the CIRM. Intent on returning to the east coast to be closer to children and grandchildren, he has stated his intention not to be a candidate for the permanent position.

About CIRM
Governed by the ICOC, the CIRM was established in 2004 with the passage of Proposition 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative. The statewide ballot measure, which provided $3 billion in funding for stem cell research at California universities and research institutions, was approved by California voters, and called for the establishment of an entity to make grants and provide loans for stem cell research, research facilities, and other vital research opportunities. The CIRM is the largest source of funding for human embryonic stem cell research in the world. To date, grants totaling more than $208.5 million have been approved by the ICOC. For more information, please visit www.cirm.ca.gov.

Contact: Dale A. Carlson
                415/396-9117

 

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