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Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has added his support to the nomination of investment banker Jonathan Thomas to lead California's stem cell research board.

Thomas was endorsed last week by Gov. Jerry Brown and state Treasurer Bill Lockyer to replace Robert Klein, outgoing chairman of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine's independent oversight committee.

In a letter to Klein, Newsom said the institute is "at a crossroads" and that the next chairman must have both a passion for stem cell research and "be able to leverage your successes with those in the private sector who will become increasingly important in funding future research, developing clinical trials and ultimately, delivering cures to the myriad of diseases being researched by CIRM-supported projects."

Controller John Chiang is also entitled to nominate a candidate for the chairmanship. A board of UC professors, investors and biomedical company executives is expected to pick a new chairman in June.


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