Stem cell company paid $443,500 to former head of state agency that funds research
As has previously been reported, Alan Trounson joined the board of StemCells Inc. in 2014, about a week after he resigned from a six-year stint as President of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to return to Australia. CIRM, which is funded by California taxpayers, had previously allotted some $40 million of grants to the company, which is based just across the Bay from Stanford.
As Jensen recounts, some of those grants had raised questions; one was made despite having been twice rejected by the grant committee. In addition, Irving Weissman, a Stanford-based cofounder of the company, has received research grants amounting to $30.5 million from the agency. Weissman notoriously appeared in TV advertisements promoting the establishment of CIRM, while wearing a white coat and identifying himself as a doctor (which he also is). In total, Stanford has receieved over a quarter of a billion dollars from CIRM, including over $40 million for a new building.
The new information that Jensen turned up in SEC filings was how much StemCells Inc. then paid Trounson: $59,500 in cash over a year and a half (far more than any other board member) and nominally $384,000 in stock options. (The stock has since tanked completely.)
Did Trounson or StemCells Inc. do anything illegal? Quite likely not. Was this transaction appropriate?
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