NEWARK, Calif., June 17, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- StemCells, Inc. (Nasdaq:STEM) announced today one promotion and three new appointments to the Company's executive team. Stephen Huhn, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.A.A.P. has been promoted to the newly created position of vice president, CNS clinical research and chief medical officer. Joel Naor, M.D., M.B.A., M.Sc., has joined StemCells, Inc. as vice president, clinical development, ophthalmology, and will report to Dr. Stephen Huhn; Naymisha Patel has joined StemCells, Inc. as vice president, quality systems; and Mohammad A. El-Kalay, Ph.D. has joined StemCells, Inc. as vice president, process development. Dr. Huhn, Ms. Patel and Dr. El-Kalay will report to Martin McGlynn president and chief executive officer of StemCells, Inc. "We are pleased to welcome Dr. Naor, Ms. Patel and Dr. El-Kalay to StemCells, Inc., and Dr. Huhn to his new position, at this critical point in the Company's evolution," said Martin McGlynn. "We plan to initiate our first controlled Phase II studies in spinal cord injury and dry age related macular degeneration (AMD) this year. Dr. Huhn's combined background in neurosurgery and academic research, together with his demonstrated leadership of our clinical activities, have prepared him well to assume his new role as our chief medical officer. Dr. Naor's 14 years of clinical experience, with a focus on eye related disorders, will be instrumental for the success of our dry AMD program. Ms. Patel's experience in building and leading quality organizations and Dr. El-Kalay's operational management and process development experience will be invaluable as we look beyond the planned Phase II studies towards additional pivotal studies and the commercialization phase." As chief medical officer, Dr. Huhn will continue to oversee all aspects of the Company's clinical activities. Dr. Huhn joined StemCells, Inc. in January 2007 to direct the Company's preclinical and clinical development programs for CNS indications. Prior to joining the company, he was associate professor of neurosurgery at Stanford University and chief of pediatric neurosurgery at the Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital. Dr. Huhn earned his M.D. at the University of Arizona in 1987 and completed a residency in neurosurgery at the University of Maryland in 1993. He completed a fellowship in neuro-oncology at UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco and pediatric neurosurgery at Northwestern University's Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Dr. Huhn is certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery and the American Board of Pediatric Neurological Surgery and is a fellow in the American College of Surgeons and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Huhn maintains an unpaid consulting associate professor appointment with the department of neurosurgery at Stanford University.