Dr. Vito Imbasciani was sworn in as the new Chair of the Board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) at its March meeting.
Imbasciani (pictured above at left) was elected to the six-year term at CIRM’s January Board meeting. He will replace outgoing chair Jonathan Thomas, who has served in the position since 2011.
“My experience has positioned me to champion the aims of CIRM, advocate for it cogently, and represent it responsibly before the public and their state and federal elected representatives,” Imbasciani said. “I look forward to the challenge of advancing the groundbreaking work of this Agency, at the same time nourishing the hopes for medical advances held by the citizens of our great State.”
Imbasciani has served as the Secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) since 2015. As Secretary, he created several new programs within the department, including forging eight independent California veteran homes into a unified system, establishing programs for veterans in state prisons, and supporting the 58 county veteran service offices.
CIRM also bid farewell to Sen. Art Torres (ret) and Jonathan Thomas (also known as JT) for their service on our Board.
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.
He served as chair of the Governing Board for more than 12 years. In that time, he led CIRM in granting $2.5 billion in grants to support groundbreaking research and discovery to advance stem cell research and accelerate stem cell treatments to patients with unmet medical needs.
He led the agency as it 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.
Senator Torres was nominated in 2009 as CIRM Vice Chair by then-Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and Treasurer Bill Lockyer, and shortly after was elected by the CIRM Governing Board.
Senator Torres served on the Grants and Standards working groups, and served as the inaugural Chair of the Accessibility and Affordability Working Group. He served on numerous subcommittees, led CIRM’s government relations efforts, and played a pivotal role in launching CIRM’s SPARK high school internship program.
CIRM expresses its deepest gratitude to Senator Torres and JT for their service on its Governing Board and for their dedication to the advancement of stem cell research and our mission to accelerate world class science to deliver transformative regenerative medicine treatments in an equitable manner to a diverse California and world.
One thought on “CIRM welcomes new Chair, bids farewell to Art Torres and Jonathan Thomas”
Naturally everyone welcomes the new folks–Hi, Dr. Imbasaciani!– but to lose JT and Senator Torres? That is a blow. Each man was 1,000% committed to battling diseases, asssisting CIRM to use its great strengh in the most effecive way. JT’s personal warmth made progress seem logical, inevitable, theright thing to do–tireless, he made things happen. And Senator Torres? Not only did his encyclopedic collection of Sacramento contacts prove valuable in hundreds of ways, but his endurance in always following up made him irreplaceable. Yet now he too is “termed out” and must depart from the scene of action. We in the patient advocate community have watched you both accomplish great things. We cannot thank you enough. As Ronald Reagan said, “May God hold you in the hollow of his hand!” You will be missed, but never forgotten.