Friday, July 26, 2013

Hello and Goodbye – new arrivals and heartfelt farewell

CIRM Chair Jonathan Thomas presents Dr. Philip Pizzo with a resolution honoring his service
It’s never easy to say goodbye to a friend, particularly when it’s someone who has been a part of your organization since the very beginning. But when it’s someone so universally liked as Dr. Philip Pizzo it’s even harder.

The stem cell agency’s July Board meeting was a time to say goodbye to Dr. Pizzo - who has stepped down from his role of Dean at Stanford and as a member of our governing Board - and hello to three new members.

The tributes to Dr. Pizzo were many and heartfelt. Dr. Michael Friedman, the CEO at City of Hope, praised Dr. Pizzo for his “unselfish” service to the people of California, adding:
“I have known Phil for more than 3 decades. He’s one of the few people in the room who remembers me with hair – which tells you how long it’s been! The citizens of California have been very fortunate to have your thoughtful engagement on their behalf over an extended period of time, always asking the question about what is the best science that will help the most people in the shortest space of time.”
Sherry Lansing, Patient Advocate for cancer, called it “truly one of the most bittersweet days since the institute was formed. “ She said he was one of the consciences of the Board:
“For me and all the patient advocates we say thanks. We would go to you to ask questions about the science and you were always so patient in explaining it and never made me feel silly or stupid for not understanding it. You were much more than a source of scientific knowledge, you are a source of ethics for the Board, you cared about what was best for the Board and the patients and that it was always done with integrity and transparency and honesty.”
After others had added their tributes Dr. Pizzo responded in a characteristically modest manner, saying:
“I am deeply humbled to be here and feel I’m almost at the point of listening to an obituary, but it’s very meaningful and the honor has been mine to serve with you. Those of us who have been here since the start remember how hard it was to get this together and how much has been accomplished in the years since.”
He ended by saying though he is stepping down he knows the cause is in good hands and he looks forward to seeing the great progress that is being made continue.
Jonathan Thomas swears in (from left to right) Dr. Lloyd Minor, Al Rowlett, Dr. Lars Berglund 

Picking up the mantle from Dr. Pizzo is Dr. Lloyd Minor, who takes over his old job as Dean of Stanford’s School of Medicine and his seat on the stem cell agency’s Board. After being sworn in he said he was “looking forward to what I know will be an exciting future.”

Al Rowlett, the new Patient Advocate for Mental Health, was also sworn in at the Board meeting and said “I am honored to represent the people of California and I’m hoping to make substantial contributions to the work of the agency. It’s a great honor.”

The third new member is Dr. Lars Berglund from UC Davis, who is the alternate for Ken Burtis.

We welcome our new members and look forward to working with you, and we bid a huge thank you and good luck on your new adventures to Dr. Pizzo. He will be missed but he has left a terrific legacy for the Board to carry on.

Bios of all 29 members are available on our website.

Kevin McCormack

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