CIRM Appoints New CEO

Koren Temple-Perry
Sr. Director, Marketing & Communications

South San Francisco, CA, July 9, 2024 – 
The Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee (ICOC), the governing board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), is pleased to announce the appointment of Jonathan Thomas, PhD, JD as CIRM’s President and CEO. Dr. Thomas—who is also known as JT—previously served as the ICOC Board Chair, a position he held for 12 years before retiring in early 2023, and most recently, as CIRM’s Interim CEO.

“JT brings a deep understanding of our mission and the vision we need to steer CIRM through the next phase of growth and innovation,” said Vito Imbasciani, PhD, MD, Chair of the CIRM board. “CIRM’s leadership has the utmost confidence in JT’s ability to lead our Agency as we refocus our efforts on the most impactful strategies to deliver cell and gene therapy treatments to the patients who need them.”

The ICOC formed a presidential search committee to identify a new CEO and President in November 2023, following the departure of Dr. Maria Millan after eleven years of dedicated service to CIRM, including six years as President and CEO. JT is expected to assume this new role immediately after serving in an interim capacity since January 2024.

“It is a privilege to take over as the official CEO and President of this incredible organization. Over the past six months, our outstanding team has made significant strides developing a game plan for how to best use the remaining Prop 14 funds for the greatest benefits for patients throughout California. As we approach our 20th anniversary, I am eager to lead CIRM into this next phase by building on our achievements and accelerating the development of transformative therapies,” said Dr. Thomas.

JT was elected as Chair of the Board in 2011 after he was nominated by then-Governor Jerry Brown, Treasurer Bill Lockyer, and Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. In that time, he led CIRM in granting $2.5 billion to support groundbreaking research to accelerate stem cell treatments to patients with unmet medical needs.

He chaired the agency as CIRM expanded its work with industry, revamped its award processes, prepared for the expiration of bond funding, supported the drafting of Proposition 14, and planned for the next phase of CIRM’s programs after the voters approved $5.5 billion in additional funding.

Before joining CIRM, he was a Co-Founding Partner at Saybrook Capital, an investment banking and private equity firm, where he led an early round of financing for Advanced Cell Technology (now part of Astellas). JT’s legal experience includes clerking for White House Counsel Lloyd Cutler in the last year of the Carter Administration and clerking for the Honorable George Mackinnon of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. JT holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale University, a JD from Yale, and a PhD from Oxford University, where he was a George C. Marshall Scholar.

“I am delighted to work with JT in his new capacity as the Agency launches programs and initiatives aimed at improving the access and affordability of cell and gene therapy treatments across California,” said Maria Gonzalez Bonneville, Vice Chair of the CIRM board. “JT will be a strong champion for patients and our diverse community of stakeholders, ensuring that CIRM continues to be a world leader in regenerative medicine research and patient access.”

About the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM)

At CIRM, we never forget that we were created by the people of California to accelerate stem cell treatments to patients with unmet medical needs, and act with a sense of urgency to succeed in that mission. To meet this challenge, our team of highly trained and experienced professionals actively partners with both academia and industry in a hands-on, entrepreneurial environment to fast track the development of today’s most promising stem cell technologies.

With $5.5 billion in funding and more than 150 active stem cell programs in our portfolio, CIRM is one of the world’s largest institutions dedicated to helping people by bringing the future of cellular medicine closer to reality.