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BioRegion Newsmakers: Jun 26, 2009

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Marie Csete Resigns as CIRM Chief Scientific Officer, 15 Months Into the Job

Marie Csete will resign Aug. 1 as the chief scientific officer of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine after 15 months in the $310,000-a-year post, Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit group that monitors developments at the state stem cell agency, reported on Wednesday.

"I am sorry and disappointed that I was unable to say goodbye to you at the last [Independent Citizens Oversight Committee] meeting. I look forward to seeing your many successes!" Csete wrote in a note to members of the ICOC, which is CIRM's governing board, in a note published by Consumer Watchdog.

John Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog's stem cell project, said on its blog that Csete's departure "after such a short tenure — and with no clear indication of where she is headed next — speaks volumes about CIRM's management. Or should I say, mismanagement.”

CIRM President Alan Trounson issued his own note to agency staffers citing Csete's "highly valuable contributions to our science operations” that included overseeing grants and organizing unspecified workshops "that have invigorated our scientific discourse and changed the direction of many of our programs.

"She has been a highly respected representative of CIRM at countless meetings nationally and internationally. I think you all would agree that our mission has been advanced by her efforts. Please join me in thanking her and wishing her luck going forward,” Trounson wrote.

A successor has yet to be named.

Csete's possible departure had been rumored for at least a month or more, according to the California Stem Cell Report: "According to those we talked to, she was reportedly dissatisfied with CIRM's management and possibly with the reception afforded her scientific advice."

Csete joined CIRM as chief scientific officer early last year [BRN, March 17, 2008], in an expansion of her role with the agency; since 2005, Csete had been a member of the CIRM Scientific and Medical Research Funding Working Group.

Before joining CIRM full-time, Csete was John E. Steinhaus professor of anesthesiology at Emory University, with an adjunct appointment in cell biology, and program faculty appointments in biochemistry, cell and developmental biology, neurosciences, and the joint biomedical engineering program of Emory and Georgia Tech. She also served as director of Liver Transplant Anesthesiology at the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, director of the Emory/Georgia Tech Human Embryonic Stem Cell Core, and co-director of Emory's MD/PhD program.

Csete graduated from Princeton University with a degree in music, and received a PhD from California Institute of Technology, where her work focused on the role of physiologic gases in stem cell fate. She received her MD degree from Columbia University's College of Physicians & Surgeons. After residency and fellowship training at the Massachusetts General Hospital and St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Boston, she was assistant professor in residence at the University of California, San Francisco, where she directed the liver transplant anesthesiology team.


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New Co-Chair Named for Public-Private Economic Development Group Team Pennsylvania

Karen Winner, CEO of Winner International, the Sharon, Pa., company that markets the vehicle anti-theft device ”The Club,” has been named private sector co-chair of the public/private economic development organization Team Pennsylvania.

Effective July 1, Winner will serve a three-year term co-chairing Team Philadelphia's board of directors along with the group's public-sector co-chair, Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell. Winner will succeed Wendie DiMatteo Holsinger, the CEO of prepared foods manufacturer ASK Foods in Palmyra, Pa.

In a press release, Rendell cited accomplishments of Team Pennsylvania under Holsinger that include creating the Pennsylvania STEM Initiative, a proposal announced June 18 to develop ”residency” teaching certificates for mid-career professionals intent on changing their careers to teaching the life sciences and other science, technology, mathematics, and engineering specialties.


Aide to Gov. Rendell Named Director of Economic Development for Pennsylvania's Montgomery County

Kenneth Klothen, Pennsylvania's deputy secretary for community affairs and development since January 2005, has been appointed director of economic development for the Philadelphia suburb of Montgomery County, at an annual salary of $131,454.

Klothen prevailed in a 2-1 vote of the county Commissioners on June 11. Chairman James Matthews and Vice Chairman Joseph Hoeffel III voted in favor of hiring Klothen, while Commissioner Bruce Castor Jr. voted against, contending his job entails duties now being carried out by other officials.

Klothen's duties include overseeing Economic Development Plan: Shaping Our Future, approved in April, which calls for $105 million worth of redevelopment of commercial, industrial, and residential areas. The plan's recommendations include the county working with businesses, nonprofits, and academic institutions in ”emphasizing the region as a biotechnology and high-tech hub, in cooperation with Biotechnology Greenhouse Corp. of Southeastern Pennsylvania, the Eastern Technology Council, the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Association, and other similar organizations.”

While Montgomery has Pennsylvania's highest concentration of life sciences and other high technology jobs, the county has struggled to revitalize depressed communities, such as the Lafayette Street corridor of Norristown; as well as retail centers pockmarked by store vacancies due to the ongoing economic upheaval.

Klothen was chosen out of about 30 candidates who applied for the director's position, according to the Mercury of Pottstown, Pa.


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