Susan L. Solomon, Crusader for Stem Cell Research, Dies at 71

Susan L. Solomon, whose frustration over the delay in finding a cure for her teenage son’s type 1 diabetes prompted her to set up a leading independent stem cell research laboratory. , passed away on September 8 at his home in Amagansett, NY. She is 71 years old.

The cause was ovarian cancer, according to her husband, Paul Goldberger, a former architecture critic for The New York Times and The New Yorker.

In 2005, Solomon left a successful career as a lawyer, new media entrepreneur and management consultant to join Mary Elizabeth Bunzel, a former journalist, in founding New York Stem Cell Foundationof which Ms. Solomon was chief executive officer for 17 years, only recently stepping down.

The foundation’s goal is to accelerate the cure of major diseases through stem cell research, and its laboratory, the New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute, on West 54th Street in Manhattan, describes itself as largest independent stem cell research laboratory in the country. It was credited infiltrates against Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, neurodegenerative and vision loss diseases, as well as mitochondrial disease in pregnant women, which can lead to stunted growth, kidney disease or neurological disorders in their children .

Ms. Solomon and Ms. Bunzel started the establishment to meet government refusal of President George W. Bush to invest heavily in stem cell research. Their hope is that stem cells – basic cells that can generate new cells with specialized functions – can be transformed into insulin-producing cells and thus help people with type 1 diabetes. Such a patient’s pancreas does not produce enough insulin on its own to help the body convert blood sugar into energy.

Stem cell research became a political issue for the Bush White House because the cells were initially harvested only from fertilized embryos, what many social conservatives considered human life. Some private research institutions also shied away from stem cell research at the time, fearing that they might jeopardize federal funding.

Ms. Solomon first envisioned the New York Stem Cell Foundation in her kitchen after her mother died of cancer and her son developed type 1 diabetes, a chronic illness that forced him to constantly follow Monitor your blood sugar and inject yourself with insulin.

Her goal is to advance breakthroughs in medical research into the treatment or cure available to patients. Dr Roy Geronemus, chair of the foundation’s board of directors, said: “She imagined the impossible and made it happen.

The Foundation has grown into an organization with an annual budget of $40 million and over 114 employees, including 45 full-time scientists, as well as its own laboratory. It has also overseen fellowships supporting researchers at other institutions.

As chief executive officer, Ms. Solomon has helped raise more than $400 million for stem cell research, starting with initial contributions from former New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; investor Stanley Druckenmiller and his wife, Fiona; and a hedge fund manager Julian Robertsonwho died last month.

Mrs. Solomon told the magazine in 2012, when she helped found the organization, she was motivated in part by “the huge gap between the work being done in educational institutions and the delivery of drugs and treatments in terms of Commerce.”

“We, as a small organization, were never able to provide the funding that the government could,” she said. “But what we can do is create a pathway, resources, fellowship programs and a lab, and lead the research. We are providing a proof of concept, so that with community input and community funding, that work can be replicated.”

Susan Lynn Solomon was born on August 23, 1951 in Brooklyn. her father, Seymour, founded Vanguard Records with his brother Maynard. Her mother, Ruth (Katz) Solomon, is a pianist and concert musician manager.

After graduating from Fieldston School in the Bronx, Ms. Solomon earned a bachelor’s degree in history from New York University in 1975 and a law degree from Rutgers in 1978.

Her eclectic career began at the New York law firm Debevoise & Plimpton, where she helped sue employment discrimination cases on behalf of women who said they were denied the opportunity to become a lawyer. Firefighters of New York City.

She left the law firm in 1981 to become a consultant and business director for Warner Amex Satellite Entertainment. She later worked for United Satellite Communications; CBS movies; Sotheby’s, where she was the CEO of the first attempt to create an online auction platform; and Lancit Media, a producer of children’s television shows, where she is also chief executive officer. In 2000, she founded and operates Solomon Partners LLC to provide strategic management consulting services

Her marriage in 1968 to Gary Hirsh, drummer for the band Country Joe and the Fish, ended in divorce. She married Mr. Goldberger in 1980.

In addition to her husband, now a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a professor of design and architecture at Parsons School of Design and New School, Ms. Solomon is survived by three sons, Adam Hirsh, from her marriage. her first person. and Ben and Alex Goldberger; and six grandchildren.

She never gave up hope that researchers would one day develop a treatment for the disease her son Ben had been dealing with for three decades, since he was 9 years old. He is currently the executive editor of Time magazine.

Ms. Solomon told The Wall Street Journal in 2016. “I’m not going to rest until we find a cure for type 1 diabetes. I believe it.”

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