We are extremely sad to hear of the passing of our friend and colleague Duane Roth. Duane died on Saturday afternoon from complications of head injuries he suffered in a bicycling accident on July 21. He was serving as vice chairman of Sanford-Burnham’s Board of Trustees and was to have assumed the role of Board chairman in September 2013. Duane was Chief Executive Officer and member of the board of CONNECT, a nonprofit technology organization in San Diego.
“Duane was an amazing friend, a leader, and mentor to all of us, and a true giant in the San Diego community and beyond. We greatly appreciated the vision and experience he contributed to our Institute”, said Kristiina Vuori, M.D., Ph.D., president and interim CEO of Sanford-Burnham.
Of key importance this past year, he provided counsel in the development of the Institute’s 10-year strategic vision. He worked closely with Institute leaders to develop a plan to enhance Sanford-Burnham’s stature as a world-class biomedical research institute while expanding the Institute’s drug discovery capabilities and translational focus.
“We were deeply honored that he had agreed to assume the role of Board chairman given the breadth of his community and industry commitments”, said Malin Burnham, Sanford-Burnham honorary trustee. “Duane was a great personal friend and colleague. He was one of San Diego’s most respected and influential leaders in the industrial, biotech, high-tech, medical research, and education sectors. On many fronts, his amazing leadership helped significantly elevate San Diego to the national stage.”
As an innovative and tech-savvy leader who was committed to serving Sanford-Burnham, Duane Roth inspired trust among the philanthropic community. “I admired Duane’s leadership and looked forward to partnering with him when he assumed the Board chair. His involvement with the Institute inspired confidence and influenced me as I considered how I would contribute to medical research in San Diego,” said Denny Sanford, Chairman and CEO, United National Corporation, and Sanford-Burnham honorary trustee.
Duane has been a supporter of Sanford-Burnham for many years. He began his association with the Institute, first as a volunteer at the Institute’s annual fundraising event, “Bring It!” and later in 2011 was elected to the Board of Trustees. During his tenure he served on the Board’s Executive Committee, Governance and Nominating Committee, External Relations Committee, and Technology Transfer Committee. His interest in the Institute’s mission and passion to connect individuals so that people and businesses could thrive had a profound impact on Sanford-Burnham. He was instrumental in helping our researchers interact with members of the biotech community so that they could explore opportunities to commercialize their scientific discoveries.
Duane’s devotion to making organizations thrive and his tireless efforts to make the world a better place has inspired many. We will miss him very much and join all those whose saddened hearts go out to Duane’s wife and partner Renee, and to the Roth family.