We were saddened to learn today of the death of Susan Solomon, the CEO and co-founder of the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF), a non-profit organization that supports stem cell research around the world. As CEO, Ms. Solomon raised over $400M for stem cell research, helping to catalyze the field and transform the future of medical research.
The foundation announced the news on its website, saying she died after a long battle with ovarian cancer.
CIRM’s Chair Jonathan Thomas said she will be greatly missed. “We were so terribly sorry to hear about Susan’s passing. She was a titan in our field who did immeasurable good for patients everywhere. We have so valued our relationship with her and NYSCF through the years.”
Like many patient advocates Ms. Solomon became active when a family member was hit by disease. In her case, it was in 1992 when her ten year old son Ben was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. A lawyer by training and a longtime business executive she put her skills to work to identify the best way to help her son, and others with type 1 diabetes. In an interview in the Wall Street Journal she says that background really helped: “As a lawyer, you learn how to learn about a new field instantly,” and, she added, “I’m really comfortable asking dumb questions.”
After much research and many conversations with scientists she concluded that stem cells were the most promising way to help patients. In 2005 she co-founded NYSCF.
Dr. Jeanne Loring, the Director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at the Scripps Research Institute, says Ms. Solomon’s death is a huge blow to the field: “I have worked with NYSCF for the last 5 years, on the project to study neuroinflammation in space using iPSC-derived neurons. Susan was one in a billion, she threw all of her considerable energy into starting and sustaining the only stand-alone research institute that I know of in the US dedicated to stem cell research.”