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California’s $3 billion stem cell agency names Australian scientist its new chief

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    SAN FRANCISCO — A renowned Australian scientist was named to run California’s $3 billion stem cell agency, the nation’s biggest financial backer of human embryonic research.
    The committee that oversees the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine voted Friday at a meeting in Los Angeles to appoint Alan Trounsoun the institute’s new president.
    ‘‘Alan is a world-class scientist,’’ said Dr. George Daley, a Harvard University researcher and president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research. ‘‘His own scientific work is going to take a secondary role.’’
    Trounson earned undergraduate degrees from the University of New South Wales in Sydney and his doctorate in embryology from Sydney University in 1974. He is currently director of Monash University’s stem cell program in Melbourne.
    He has launched eight biotechnology companies, including Singapore-based Embryonic Stem Cell International.
    Trounson said he hoped to start work at the San Francisco-based institute by the end of the year. He will oversee a staff of about 30.
    The 3-year-old institute had been searching for a science chief since its first president, Zach Hall, retired at the end of April.
    The institute was created by Proposition 71, a 2004 initiative approved by California voters. It is bankrolled by $3 billion in bonds and is authorized to dole out about $300 million annually in research grants.
    The state agency this year began issuing its first grants after defeating two lawsuits that tried to put the institute out of business by claiming it was unconstitutional.

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