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