Boy he's quick. On the heels of Dr. Bernard Salick's resignation (ouster?) from Los Angeles-based Salick Health Care Inc. in early April, and the announcement that he plans to start a rival global health care firm with "hundreds of millions" of dollars in investment capital, the businessman/physician is putting $4.5 million toward an endowed chair and new AIDS research center at Queens College in New York.

The first person to hold the Salick-funded professorship? No less than Luc Montagnier, co-discoverer of the AIDS virus and president of the World Foundation for AIDS Research and Prevention in Paris.

"It's out of (Salick's) own pocket and demonstrates his long-term commitment to finding a vaccine for AIDS," said Marshall Grossman, an attorney at Alschuler Grossman & Pines who is representing Salick.

The $4.5 million is to serve as seed money to be expanded on by corporate donations, private donations and government funding. A target for total funding has not yet been announced.

The donation had been in the works for several months, according to Grossman, preceding Salick's departure from the successful chain of cancer and renal clinics he founded. The British drug company Zeneca Group PLC in April bought the 50 percent of Salick Health Care it didn't already own and offered Salick an honorary advisory position.

Salick resigned, vowing to start a new company that would open a string of treatment clinics for cancer, AIDS and other chronic illnesses to go head-to-head with his namesake company. The new firm, Bentley Health Care Inc. in Beverly Hills, is currently seeking funding from investment bankers to open the clinics.

Montagnier will both hold the endowed professorship in molecular and cellular biology at Queens College (Salick's alma mater) and head the college's Salick Family Center for Molecular and Cellular Biology. Montagnier has said the center will focus on developing an AIDS vaccine and creating simpler treatments for AIDS patients around the world.

Open wide

The California Department of Corporations has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court seeking a $3 million fine and the appointment of a receiver for Western Dental Services Inc., which operates 113 dental clinics in California, 15 of them in Los Angeles.

The department filed suit after weeks of negotiations regarding alleged quality problems at the dental HMO fell apart, according to Department of Corporations Commissioner Keith Bishop.

"Western Dental has allowed very serious deficiencies to go uncorrected," Bishop said. "We are taking this action to ensure that Western Dental meets its legal obligation to provide quality dental care."

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