The New York Stem Cell Foundation Mourns the Loss of CEO Susan L. Solomon
NEW YORK, NY (September 9, 2022) – The New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) today announced the death of its Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Susan L. Solomon, on September 8th, shortly after she had stepped down as CEO, after a long battle with ovarian cancer. Dr. Derrick Rossi, a member of the NYSCF Board of Directors and co-founder of Moderna Therapeutics, has been named Interim CEO of NYSCF.
NYSCF is a New York-based non-profit organization that supports stem cell scientists around the world and operates the NYSCF Research Institute, the largest independent stem cell laboratory in the United States. As CEO, Ms. Solomon raised over $400M for stem cell research, helping to catalyze the field and transform the future of medical research.
“This is the end of an incredible era for NYSCF,” said Dr. Roy Geronemus, Chairman of the NYSCF Board of Directors. “Susan founded this organization in 2005, and guided it for over 17 years. She imagined the impossible and made it happen. I speak on behalf of the entire Board when I say that we will forever be grateful for all she did for NYSCF and for the field of stem cell research to advance better treatments and cures for patients everywhere. We are confident that Dr. Rossi as Interim CEO, and the rest of the NYSCF team, will continue the trajectory that Susan led us on to move NYSCF’s mission forward. The Board has begun a search for a permanent CEO.”
A lawyer by training and a longtime entrepreneur and business executive, Ms. Solomon began her role as a health-care advocate in 1992 when one of her sons was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. After conversations with clinicians and scientists, she identified stem cells as the most promising way to address unmet patient needs and felt an independent organization was needed to help translate cutting-edge stem cell research into clinical breakthroughs and cures for patients. She co-founded NYSCF in 2005. Since then, advances from NYSCF research have twice been named Time magazine’s #1 scientific breakthrough of the year, and NYSCF-supported research has led to over 20 major clinical breakthroughs that are already or very soon bringing clinical treatments for devastating diseases. During her time as CEO, Ms. Solomon served on many Boards, including the College Diabetes Network and the Regional Plan Association, and received numerous awards, including the New York State Women of Excellence Award from the Governor of New York, the Triumph Award from the Brooke Ellison Foundation, and recognition as a Living Landmark from the New York Landmarks Conservancy.
During a meeting earlier in the week with NYSCF staff to announce the CEO transition, Ms. Solomon relayed the following message:
“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.”
“It has been a great privilege to serve on the NYSCF Board of Directors and I am honored to now serve as Interim CEO,” said Dr. Rossi. “Since I first met Susan in 2010 and became a member of the NYSCF community, I have been in awe. Susan was a force of nature, a fierce and effective advocate for science and patients, and a true visionary. She was also a dear friend. Without question, Susan’s and NYSCF’s impact on science has been enormous and, quite frankly, unmatched. Though I wish that Susan could have continued her incredible and effective leadership of NYSCF for the next hundred years, I am nonetheless honored and ready to lead NYSCF over the coming months as we search for a permanent leader.”
Dr. Rossi, a biotechnology entrepreneur and stem cell scientist, is the co-founder of Moderna Therapeutics, and co-founder of Intellia Therapeutics, Magenta Therapeutics, and Stelexis Therapeutics. Until his retirement from academia, he was an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard University, and an investigator at Boston Children’s Hospital where he led an academic team working on stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. In 2010, Derrick was named a NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Investigator and he joined the Board of Directors in 2020. His efforts in the development of cutting-edge technologies and new therapeutic strategies are at the forefront of regenerative medicine and biotechnology. Time magazine named Dr. Rossi as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the world (Time 100) in 2011. Dr. Rossi earned his B.Sc. and M.Sc. from University of Toronto, and his PhD from the University of Helsinki.
Prior to founding NYSCF, Ms. Solomon had a diverse career spanning many decades. After graduating from New York University, she received her JD from Rutgers University School of Law while raising her eldest son as a single mother and serving as an editor of the Law Review. She began her career as an attorney at Debevoise & Plimpton. The work she was most passionate about was her pro bono work, including the representation of a woman suing the NYC Fire Department for sexual discrimination based on the firefighting qualification testing that was biased toward male applicants.
She later continued her law career as counsel for Warner Amex Satellite Entertainment Corporation, a joint venture in the then-new industry of cable television to develop television networks, including MTV, Nickelodeon, and Showtime.
After jobs at United Satellite Entertainment and CBS Productions, a film arm of CBS, Ms. Solomon joined MacAndrews & Forbes to help in the area of media acquisitions, and later APAX, formerly MMG Patricof and Company, another financial firm.
Ms. Solomon subsequently joined Sony Corporation to establish and serve as President of a new radio network, Sony Worldwide Networks, which was the first to do internet radio broadcasting. She then moved on to her last media job as the founding CEO of Sothebys.com, where she helped to develop the first online auction platform.
Prior to founding NYSCF in 2005, she started her own strategic management consulting firm, Solomon Partners LLC, through which she worked with a range of non-profit and media companies.
Ms. Solomon is survived by her husband Paul Goldberger and three sons and daughters-in-law, Adam and Delphine Hirsh, Ben Goldberger and Melissa Rothberg, and Alex Goldberger and Carolyna De Laurentiis, and six grandchildren Thibeaux and Josephine Hirsh, Julian and Gabriel Goldberger, and Arlo and Celeste Goldberger.
The family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, any gifts in memory of Susan be made to The New York Stem Cell Foundation, to continue her legacy.