Meet CIRM’s growing world class team 

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) continues to build its world class team to deliver the full potential of regenerative medicine to the people of California and around the world. CIRM is rebuilding and expanding its team to meet new challenges and advance the mission of the Agency. 

Rafael Aguirre-Sacasa and Koren Temple-Perry join the growing ranks of new team members that CIRM has hired since the passage of Proposition 14 in November 2020. We recently shared an announcement welcoming them to the team here.

Among the new hires is Emily Reyes, who joins CIRM as a project manager in the Medical Affairs and Policy team. She earned her MPH from California State University, Fullerton and her BS degree from Oregon State University. Emily comes to CIRM from UCSF, where she was a clinical research coordinator overseeing several research studies with responsibilities including patient coordination, data collection and manuscript preparation. 

Marivel De La Torre also joins the Medical Affairs and Policy team as a project manager and is responsible for overseeing critical activities as CIRM continues to build and execute the medical affairs strategic plan. Marivel comes to CIRM from Sacramento, where she has over 18 years of State service managing numerous projects within the Department of Transportation, Department of Healthcare Services, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and California Air Resources Board. 

Ben Chau is CIRM’s new Associate Director of IT. He has worked in management for over 13 years and brings a wide range of skills and leadership to this role. Before joining CIRM, he was the IT Director for Asian Health Services where he put forward IT strategic plans to ensure systems were up to date with technology and security compliance.  

James (Jim) Campanelli, PhD joins CIRM as a Senior Science Officer in Therapeutics Development. Prior to CIRM, Jim was employed at Q Therapeutics where he directed research and development efforts for past 17 years.Jim received a PhD in Biological Sciences from Stanford and was an assistant Professor of Biochemistry at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Elizabeth (Liz) Noblin, PhD joins the Review team as a Senior Science Officer. Before joining us at CIRM, Liz was a program and project manager at 23andMe, where she supported both the Research and Therapeutics divisions. Liz received a PhD in Genetics from Yale and completed her postdoc with Dr. Anne Brunet at Stanford.  

Charlie Shaw, PhD is a Senior Science Officer and the newest member of the Business Development & Alliance Management team. Charlie joins CIRM after more than 12 years’ experience in academic technology licensing offices. His most recent role was at the Moffitt Cancer Center where he was the Associate Director of Licensing. Charlie has a PhD in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology from Duke University, post-doctoral training in genetic medicine from University of Chicago, BS in Biology from Davidson College and is currently obtaining his MBA from East Carolina University. 

Scott Tocher, CIRM’s former General Counsel, returned to the agency last November as a retired annuitant to help fill CIRM’s workload gap in the legal division, and rejoined as a permanent employee as Senior Director of Board Governance in February. Scott originally came to CIRM’s legal department in 2005, assisting in the development of CIRM’s policies, programs and regulations through 2019.  

Janie Byrum, PhD, joins the Scientific Programs team as a Science Officer. In her most recent role as an R&D engineer at CZ Biohub, she led and built imaging pipeline projects to interrogate the impacts of viral infection on cell function as part of the Infected Cell and Quantitative Cell Science departments. Janie has a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center and a post-doctoral training in immunology from Columbia University Irving Medical Center. 

Chan Lek Tan, PhD, a Science Officer in CIRM’s Scientific Programs team, is an experienced and inquisitive scientist with a background in neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases. In his most recent roles as Principal Scientist at Genentech and BridgeBio, Chan furthered his expertise in pre-IND development of small molecule and RNA-based therapeutics for neuro-based indications. Chan has a PhD in Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience from The Rockefeller University, New York where he studied under Dr. Paul Greengard.  

Gemma Domingo joins CIRM as Sr. Finance Officer.  She attended the University of the East in Manila and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting. In 1990, she immigrated to the U.S. to join her family and joined state service in 1998. Throughout her time with state service, Gemma previously worked at the Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Child Support Services, and California Office of Emergency Services. 

Leyla Najmi, a seasoned Senior Human Resources (HR) leader and business partner, joins CIRM as the Director of HR. Leyla has used her strong HR acumen and a blend of experience in various positions within private and public sectors to affect positive change in the organizations where she has worked.  Effectively balancing big picture thinking and strategic planning with hands-on execution has allowed Leyla to combine decisiveness, strong business acumen and formal education to achieve objectives both professionally and personally. 

“We are delighted to have these talented individuals join the CIRM team,” says CIRM President and CEO Dr. Maria Millan. “They all bring unique qualifications and critical skills to support our strategic plan and advancement of CIRM’s mission to accelerate world class science for California and the world. We look forward to working with all of them.” 

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