January 23, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

Tribute to CIRM Vice-Chair, Duane Roth

Duane RothDuane Roth, the Vice-Chair of the California Stem Cell Agency CIRM and the leader of CONNECT, an organization promoting entrepreneurship in the San Diego area, died yesterday.

Roth had been in a serious solo cycling accident on July 21.

Roth had a long, successful career in biotech including having founded Alliance Pharmaceutical Corp. He was a strong, positive force in the stem cell field and had a powerful influence at CIRM. Next month Roth was reportedly going to take the reigns of Sanford-Burnham.

He will be sorely missed.

I heard Roth speak at CIRM meetings. I was impressed with his common sense approach and devotion to helping others including patients. Director of the Stem Cell Program here at UC Davis, Jan Nolta, told me of Roth, “he changed the world through his work at CIRM.”

Jeanne Loring had this to say of Roth to me :

Each patient advocate who supports stem cell research has his or her advocacy style.  Duane’s was calm, powerful logic and a clear message.  He would say that each of us is a just a diagnosis away from a devastating disease, that tomorrow our lives, or the lives of our loved ones could drastically change.  His argument for stem cell research was that we must use whatever tools we have to cure disease.
I also asked Larry Goldstein about Roth’s passing:

It is a terrible loss personally as I had enormous affection and respect for Duane. It’s a huge loss for science, for medicine, for San Diego, for California and the rest of the world. He was a man of rare vision for how science can help medicine and thus our economy and people suffering from terrible diseases. A heartbreaking loss. My heart goes out to Renée and the rest of his family.

CIRM sent out an email today mourning the loss of Roth, quoting Chair of the Board Jonathan Thomas in one section:

“On behalf of all the CIRM family, we mourn the loss of our colleague and dear friend Duane Roth,” said Jonathan Thomas, PhD, JD, Chair of the stem cell agency’s Board. “He was one of the true stewards of the mission, offering countless insights on the role of industry in the world of regenerative medicine and how best and efficiently to drive therapies through to patients.  He was unfailingly a voice of reason and optimism and always sought to find ways to make things happen, refusing to take “no” for an answer.”

The email from CIRM also said:

“Duane was a friend and inspiring leader who unselfishly fought for patients everywhere,” says former state Senator Art Torres, JD, who served as co-Vice Chair of the agency with Duane. “He leaves a lasting legacy for California and the nation. I will miss his counsel and friendship. Our love goes out to his wife Renee and all the Roth family.”

This is a sad day for California.

The best way to honor Roth is to continue building on all his hard work and his legacy of innovation and positive spirit. Contributions in his honor can be made to Pedal the Cause.

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