It was a shock to learn today that New York Stem Cell Foundation CEO and Co-Founder Susan Solomon had passed away yesterday after a long battle with ovarian cancer.
I met Susan a few times over the years and was always struck by her positive energy. At a practical level she got big things done and enabled others to do great things too. In its tribute to Susan, NYSCF noted incredible accomplishments including raising $400 million for research. She herself wrote a retrospective kind of message just earlier this week:
“Building NYSCF has been the privilege of a lifetime and I am incredibly proud of the contributions we have made to the field of stem cell research and developing new and more effective treatments and cures to improving the lives of patients. I am confident that our outstanding and dedicated leadership and staff will continue to move our programs forward under Derrick’s leadership and that of our longtime COO/CFO Jeff Wallerstein while the Board conducts a search for my successor.”
Derrick Rossi will be the new leader of NYSCF moving forward.
The stem cell field has lost several greats recently including Meri Firpo. It can be very difficult to deal with such deaths but it also gives us a unique chance to think about all that they achieved.
You can watch Susan’s TED talk here.
I’m going to leave today’s post on Susan open as a form of tribute to her. Please send me any tributes you have to her and I will add them here.
From Jeanne Loring
There are only a few places in the US where stem cell research truly thrives, through tremendous dedication by funders, advocates, and scientists. In California, we have CIRM. In New York, there is the New York Stem Cell Foundation. NYSCF is a research institute, privately funded by philanthropists to support scientists who focus on finding cures with stem cells.
Susan Solomon, its founder and supporter, died yesterday. She was a lawyer, not a scientist, but like Bob Klein and CIRM, she was motivated by having a child with Type1 diabetes, and inspired by the potential of stem cells to treat incurable diseases. I am grateful to have benefited from both Bob’s and Susan’s vision and energy; with NYSCF scientists, we are launching (literally) experiments to study stem cells on the International Space Station.
Susan was an extraordinary woman, and her vision will extend long beyond our lifetimes. The stem cell community mourns her loss.
From Bernie Siegel
One of the great patient advocates of our time, Susan Solomon, has passed away. Susan was a visionary leader and true force of nature. A diabetes mom, she launched the New York Stem Cell Foundation that has supported cutting edge research and constructed a major laboratory populated by globally recognized stem cell scientists. How we shall miss her! She had a larger than life personality, sense of humor, grace and charm. I was in Manhattan several years ago at the ribbon-cutting opening of the foundation’s new laboratory. I was humbled to be in the company of giants- researchers, philanthropists and public figures. All of us cheered Susan for her vision and leadership! Susan and I served together for a time on the board of the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine. She was always the focused voice or reason. NYSCF and Susan were recognized by my organization, the Regenerative Medicine Foundation, with the 2012 Stem Cell Action Award. She will be sorely missed. The entire stem cell community mourns the loss of our champion and sends our condolences to her dear family and, of course, to the wonderful team at the NYSCF.