Dr. Vito Imbasciani will be the new Chair of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the state agency created by voters in 2004 and funded again in 2020 to invest in stem cell and regenerative medicine research and treatments.
At January’s Board meeting, the agency’s 35-member Governing Board elected Imbasciani to the six-year term, replacing outgoing chair Jonathan Thomas, who has served in the position since 2011.
“Dr. Imbasciani’s experience across many relevant fronts will help him hit the ground running in guiding the Agency as it continues to grow its programs to bring treatments to patients with unmet medical needs,” Thomas said in welcoming Imbasciani to the role. “The agency, as well as the people of California and the world, will be well served by Imbasciani’s appointment as Chair of the CIRM Governing Board.”
Imbasciani expressed excitement in taking on the role, citing his extensive career in academia, government, military service and medicine.
“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.
In addition, Dr. Imbasciani has been a practicing urologic surgeon for 30 years, treating a mostly older population suffering from congenital and acquired conditions.
Dr. Imbasciani completed medical school at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, and his surgical and urologic residencies at Yale-New Haven Hospital and the West Haven VA Hospital in Connecticut. At the University of Vermont, he worked in the laboratory assisting in studies of neurodegenerative diseases.
He earned MA and PhD degrees from Cornell University, and was a Fulbright Scholar to Rome, Italy in 1973. He held academic teaching positions at the University of Florida, Cornell University and Middlebury College in Vermont.
He also served for 27 years as a surgeon in the United States Army Medical Corps, with four wartime deployments that exposed him to battlefield medicine and post-acute care.
Dr. Imbasciani also has a documented history in successful stem cell research advocacy. As an elected member of the Board of Directors of both the California Medical Association and the Los Angeles County Medical Association, he advocated for investments in basic stem cell research, and for the passage of Proposition 71, the ballot initiative that created CIRM. This included participating in activities aimed at educating the wider medical community in the long-term benefits of stem cell research.
CIRM President and CEO Dr. Maria T. Millan applauded Imbasciani’s appointment as Chair.
“Dr. Imbasciani’s experience as a state secretary, surgeon, professor, stem cell research advocate, and board member of various medical agencies and organizations makes him exceptionally well-suited to fill the role of ICOC Chair and to lead CIRM in accelerating world class science and treatments for a diverse California and the world. I look forward to working with him in his new role.”
Imbasciani will be sworn in and start on March 28, 2023.