About AST

In Memoriam: Daniel R. Salomon, MD

 

It is with heavy hearts that we share the sad news of the recent passing of Dan Salomon. As president of the AST from 2013-2014, Dan's contributions to the Society were quite visionary. Below is a fitting tribute, written by Ken Newell.

 

The practice of medicine exposes us to the inevitability of death.  Transplantation allows us to see the cycle of life with joy emerging from tragedy.  However, nothing can prepare us for the loss of a dear friend and colleague.  On November 10, 2016, Dan Salomon passed away after a courageous battle with cancer.  Those who spent time with Dan during his illness were witness to the stoicism with which he endured the treatments and the optimism he maintained.

While his professional achievements would never define Dan, it is appropriate to reflect on his many and varied accomplishments.  After earning his undergraduate and medical degrees at Northwestern University and Stritch-Loyola School of Medicine in Chicago, Dan completed a residency in internal medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.  He then pursued additional postdoctoral training in nephrology and transplantation immunology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School.  His first faculty appointment was at the University of Florida where he rapidly rose to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure.  In order to refocus his career more intensely in basic research, he spent three years at the National Institutes of Health gaining additional training in the emerging field of molecular biology. 

In 1993, Dan moved to The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), first as an Associate Professor and then as Professor with tenure.  The consummate clinician-scientist, Dan always understood the importance of bringing cutting edge science to the care of his patients.  His administrative roles at TSRI included Medical Director of the Kidney/Pancreas Transplant Program, Program Medical Director of the Scripps Center for Organ and Cell Transplantation, and Director of the Laboratory for Functional Genomics.  It is in this later role that Dan, together with numerous friends and colleagues including Stuart Flechner and Michael Abecassis, defined detailed profiles of transcriptional and posttranslational regulation relevant for transplantation and then used this information to define biomarkers for predicting rejection and guiding decisions about immunosuppressive management following solid organ transplantation.  In recognition of his scientific contributions to transplantation, Dan received the 2016 AST Basic Science Established Investigator Award.

While Dan’s passion for cutting edge translational science was evident, he also made lasting contributions to the field as a clinician, as a mentor, and as a leader of the American Society of Transplantation. 

Dan’s contributions to the AST were many and quite visionary – culminating with the AST presidency from 2013-2014. As president of this prestigious society, Dan focused many of his efforts on the interface between translational science and transplantation.  Together with his colleague, Tony Jevnikar, he restructured and revitalized the AST’s winter meeting, aptly renaming it the Cutting Edge of Transplantation (CEOT).  With Bob Gaston, he co-founded and launched the Transplantation & Immunology Research Network (TIRN), an initiative supporting the most innovative research in transplantation and immunology, fostering collaboration among transplant researchers, and encouraging and inspiring young researchers in our field. 

Recognizing the need to establish the society’s ability to independently fund promising research through TIRN, Dan realized that new revenue sources would be essential and led the initial effort to independently raise capital through the development of a cause marketing initiative.  This spirit of collaboration was also evident in Dan’s leadership of an AST / ASTS initiative to   achieve the fair treatment of living organ donors through the removal of financial disincentives.

While each of these achievements is impressive in its own right, they do not fully capture the incredible person Dan was. Perhaps what best characterizes Dan is his passion for life—whether it took the form of laboratory equipment few of us could use, or his surfing with colleagues each morning. 

 

As I got to know Dan, I saw how much his family meant to him.  The year he was president-elect of the AST, he left the American Transplant Congress early to be present for the birth of his first grandchild.  When I saw him last year, what he spoke about most was a recent trip taken with his extended family. 

To say that Dan made the most of life would be a great understatement.  So while today we all remember Dan, let us never forget his commitment to his patients, profession, colleagues, and family.  Let us try to live our lives with the same passion Dan had for living his.

written by Kenneth A. Newell, MD, PhD, AST past president

 

Learn about the Daniel R. Salomon Frontiers in Transplantation Endowment (FITE).

Comments

Thank you, Ken for a fitting tribute to a wonderful guy - he will be sorely missed.

Dan was a great NIH study section reviewer. His criticisms were incisive but fair and always very encouraging to those who were at the receiving end. His goal was always to help the applicant do better science. I have myself been the beneficiary of his wisdom and vision many times in my career. His zest for life and science continues to inspire me. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Dan, Alan Langnas and I had the pleasure of sharing our presidential year (AST, ASTS, UNOS/OPTN) in 2013-2014. Dan was instrumental in helping to build bridges between between our groups and moving our transplant community forward together. I echo Ken Newell's recollections that Dan was never more proud and more joyful than when he spoke of his family.
My family's thoughts and prayers are with Dan and his family.

It was truly an honor and a privilege to work closely with Dan, and I have fond memories of our time together. AST was near and dear to his heart, but his family meant the world to him. Dan's legacy will live on in AST through TIRN, Power2Save, the "arc of change", and so many more initiatives that he led or contributed to in important ways. He will be missed by many ...

Such a wonderful tribute to Dan!
I spent the last 16 years of my career in innumerable scientific and personal discussions, agreements, disagreements and many cherished moments with Dan, my mentor. It is hard to digest the fact that he is not with us anymore. His passion for work and his undying commitment to the field will never be paralleled. Even a couple weeks back, when I saw him, not knowing it would be for the last time, he was able to harness this tremendous contagious energy to work on a manuscript and plan a grant, despite his health. He has etched his mark on many hearts and minds. If I were to pick one aspect out of the myriad things he taught me it would be “No matter how monumental your academic and professional achievements are, at the end of the day if you are not remembered as a good person, then you have achieved nothing”. As you said, he always put family first and taught us to do the same. He will be missed physically but he is forever with us in spirit.

Thank you Ken Newell for you moving tribute. It would be an understatement to say that my older brother had a major impact on my life and with his passing, I feel that a part of me is also gone. I can imagine that if I was diagnosed with metastatic cancer and a 7% chance of surviving 3 years I would quit my job, buy some really good bourbon and spend my remaining months on a Tahitian island. But Dan never considered that sort of self-indulgence. Even as he was experiencing severe side effects from chemotherapy he was writing grants, continuing his research and mentoring the graduate students and post-docs in his lab. Dan stayed alive as long as he could, not because he was afraid of death (he wasn't) but because he felt a duty to spend as much time as possible with his children, his grand children and with his extended family--i.e. his co-investigators. On Thursday, I lost my older brother and many of you lost a friend and a colleague. He only lived 63 years, a short life by today's standards, but he lived a full life, an impactful life and left behind a living legacy in all of us who knew him.

What a great loss. Dan was a rare visionary whose big science never overlooked the goal of finding the truth and helping to heal the patient.

Dan was an amazing person. He trained me in liver transplant and immunosuppression, and when I came back to Scripps in 2012 he continued to mentor me and be a true inspiration as an example of a gentleman-physician. His patients still ask about him, and he touched innumerable lives during his career. I can't imagine not having Dan to Call when I need another opinion, some advice, or just a pep talk.

Thanks, Ken, for this fitting tribute. Early in my career, Dan was already established as a leader in transplantation whom I admired from afar. Thus, as Dan "re-emerged" in the AST leadership in 2012, I considered it a special honor to work with him over the last 5 years or so, and really come to appreciate his intellect, insight, and willingness to commit to others on issues of importance even well outside his comfort zone. All these qualities contribute to our sense of loss in this moment, though the contributions to our field will live on. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.

I knew Dan very at the inception of his career at the Brigham where I was a supervisor.
I have known well throughout his career. Dan's energy, enthusiasm, intellect, insight, collegiality and incredible energy have never wavered, even in the face of obvious adversity. I have never known anyone with his level energy and competence and engagement. He is literally irreplaceable.

We worked together at the University of Florida, back in the '80's. His commitment to our patients, our team and his family set the standard for my career.
A thousand words of thanks are not enough.

I echo the comments above, Dr. Salomon was a truly remarkable person and my prayers are with his family, colleagues, and friends.

I was the last Ph.D. student to graduate from Dan's lab. He had a profound impact on me in many ways that I will probably never be able to articulate, so I will not attempt to here. However, his loss has left a giant hole in my heart, and I have no doubt that everyone who worked with him feels the same way. I've never met anyone in my life that was such a unique combination of influential, inspirational, and tremendously nice. I hope that he bestowed on me at least 10% of his wonderful qualities as a mentor as I set out on my own career path. I wholeheartedly agree with all the other comments here that he truly was an amazing person, and it's hard to lose someone that seemed so immortal. I will ponder in the coming years all the things I can do to carry forward his legacy, because Dan really meant a lot to me and was a powerful force in my life.

I want to echo the comments about Dan that have already been made, but add my own on how he significantly influenced my life. He was such an incredible, indescribable research mentor, and I do not think there is anyone in the field who has taught me more about grant writing, conducting translational studies, critically analyzing your own work, and being humble even when you think you've found the answers - the lessons I learned from him were invaluable. He also was instrumental in getting me involved more extensively with AST and was the one who encouraged me to run for a board position. I was fortunate to have served on the board when he was AST president, and I cannot say enough about the strength of his leadership and the eloquence he displayed during his tenure. He essentially created TIRN which has raised funds to allow current and future generations to discover and find solutions to prolong transplant patient survival. On a personal note, he was really a great friend to me, and I will really miss having him around and seeing him at meetings and events. One thing I will never forget is that he told my parents how proud he was of me when I won the AST Clinical Investigator award - that really meant the world to me. My prayers and thoughts are with his friends and family in this difficult time, Josh Levitsky

Thank you Dan for your thoughtful leadership of the AST while president, for your mentor ship and support of our young AST Transplant Administrators Community of Practice and for your kind and caring feedback to me and my colleagues... Thank you for your countless contributions to medicine and transplantation... You will be dearly missed! The good die young. RIP my friend...

I first met Dan when I interviewed in Gainesville for the University of Florida faculty in 1987. He very graciously invited me into his home like an old friend. Although I ended up in Orlando, we remained as friends, rarely seeing each other only at meetings. I last saw him at the AST meeting the year of his presidency. Busy as he was, when he spotted me, he walked over, sat down and caught up. Typical of him to spend his time like that. I'll miss those encounters.

As a friend and collaborator of over two decades, I can attest to the many wonderful qualities people have mentioned in their moving comments and tributes. Two more things O would mention: he was a great Dad to his kids, and sought to provide them with a good example of how to build a family. And he had a great sense of humor, reflected in our many discussions on politics. He would laugh right now, from wherever he is, if I said that this latest election did him in. A true mensch.

Sanofi/Genzyme wishes to express our great sadness over the untimely passing of Dr. Dan Salomon. Dr. Salomon was greatly respected and revered by the Transplant Community as a leader and innovator, as well as a mentor to many. His many contributions to the science of immunology, as well as the patients and professionals he interacted with will serve as his enduring legacy.

On behalf of the CST, we were saddened to hear that Dr. Daniel Salomon passed away after a battle with cancer.

Dan was a trusted colleague and friend to many in the Canadian transplant community and his absence will be felt deeply. For those of us who knew him well, we were always impressed by his integrity, enthusiasm, and willingness to offer helpful advice.

Atul Humar, CST President
On behalf of the Canadian Society of Transplantation

Dan and I were both in Boston at various stages in our training, but I began to know him best while on the AST board and over discussions of what eventually became CEOT. One evening, over a nice bottle of wine and chatting until very late, I began to appreciate what a remarkable and multidimensional person Dan was, not only for his brilliance in science but also his easy style, his ability to condense the 'complex' to 'simple' (as simple as it could be) and his passion for surfing. He was always impressive. His passing is a huge loss to the transplant community, his friends and family, but I truly feel that many of things that he started will endure, even beyond ourselves.

I had the privilege to serve on the Board when Dan was president. Although we never agreed in the area of politics I always had great admiration for his overwhelming command of the science and his amazing ability to balance that with family. He adored his family and cherished his time with his friends in the surf. How amazing he was at being both the great scientist as well as a great human. The transplant community has suffered a loss that is beyond measure. However, his presidency and the legacy he left with the concept and the development of TIRN will live on for many years to come.

I was deeply saddened when I heard of our loss of Dan.  When I transitioned to industry in 1999 after 20 years of academic practice in transplantation, Dan became one of my best resources for considering incorporation of cutting edge basic research into clinical trials and also a wonderful friend. Thank you so much, Dan for the great things you have done for all of us and for the many splendid memories we all have of you. RIP.

Dan was a member of the next generation of Brighamites, but I got to know him well through the AST and its various committees and conferences. His charm, intelligence and focus were delights to behold. Not aware of his illness, I am saddened by this premature loss. My condolences go out to his family. Establishing a an AST fund in his name is a fitting tribute.

I first met Dan around 2000, when I made a presentation to the FDA Advisory Committee on Cell, Tissue and Gene Therapy, of which he was chair. I eventually joined the committee as a member and had the privilege of serving with him for several years. His ability to cut through layers of complexity to identify the heart of any given problem, and to lead the committee in development of helpful solutions materially moved the field of gene therapy forward. Later he provided invaluable advice to our research efforts in gene therapy for hemophilia, first as a member of the External Advisory Committee of our NIH Program Project Grant, and then as a member of the Data Safety and Monitoring committee of our clinical trials. He gave unstintingly of his time as we discussed the nature of human immune responses to our vector, and best immunosuppressive regimens to manage these responses. Most of all, he had an incredible zest for life, and a personal warmth that always shone through. He made a difference in many people's lives.

Dan was an amazing human being. He was the reason why I decided to continue with my PhD track at TSRI. My graduate school experience was initially to a rather rough start and I was even contemplating whether grad school was the right choice for me, but Dan took me under his wing during my rotation in his lab, and I decided to stay to pursue my PhD project with Dan as my mentor. Dan was a visionary, a true leader who inspired people around him. With him as a mentor, I learned a life's worth of advice and philosophy that still use as a biology instructor in my current position. I hope that his legacy lives on in the many graduate students and post-docs that he trained and prepared over his long and prolific career.

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