Zach Hall, a neuroscientist and a dean at USC's Keck School of Medicine, was named interim president of the body overseeing Proposition 71, which will disburse some $3 billion for stem cell research.

Hall was appointed interim president of the Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee on Tuesday and senior science advisor to the body. He will hold these positions for one year at a salary of $389,004.

Hall is director of USC's Zilka Neurogenetic Institute and a senior associate dean of the medical school, where he has been leading the effort to jump-start a biotech park. A spokesman for Keck School of Medicine said Hall left these positions Tuesday.

Officials at the university, which is seeking Prop 71 research funding, praised the appointment although Hall will have no direct say in the grants, which will be disbursed by an independent committee.

"Zach is a world-class scientist and has shown himself to be a proven scientific leader," said Keck School Dean Brian Henderson, M.D. "He is the right person to get the CIRM off to a successful start."

Hall went to USC from the University of California, San Francisco where from 1997 to 2001 he helped develop that schools 43-acre Mission Bay biomedical campus. Prior to that, he was the director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a part of the National Institutes of Health.

"I am excited to be working on this historic project," said Hall, in a prepared release after the committee vote. "I look forward to the challenge."

Earlier this year, Hall announced that USC planned to move forward with initial building at the biotech park, which had been stalled after being announced with fanfare in 2001.

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