Monday, August 12, 2013

Duane Roth: Ecumenical Innovator for San Diego and Biotech

The Xconomy news service today carried a sterling look at the contributions that Duane Roth, co-vice chairman of the California stem cell agency, made before his untimely death as the result of a bicycle accident.

Reporter Bruce Bigelow pulled together a host of comments concerning Roth's involvement in the San Diego community, ranging from biotech to action sports companies. The headline on the piece read, “The Connector Who Wired up a Regional Innovation Economy.”

At the time of his death at the age of 63, Roth was CEO of Connect, a nonprofit organization that supported technology and innovation and one that he was credited with reviving. Bigelow also wrote,
“Once California voters approved a 2004 ballot proposition that authorized the issuance of $3 billion in grants for stem cell R&D, (Mary) Walshok (associate vice chancellor for public programs at UC San Diego) said Roth also played a key role in bringing together UCSD, Scripps, Salk, and Sanford-Burnham to create the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine. In fact, Walshok doubts whether anyone but Duane Roth could have brought the four major research centers together.”
Another speaker at the memorial services Friday attended by about 1,000 persons was Bill Walton, the former UCLA and NBA great, who grew up in San Diego.

Bigelow wrote,
“Walton, the NBA Hall of Famer who has led San Diego Sports Innovators as a division of Connect since 2010, said Roth became a business mentor to him. In his comments Friday afternoon, Walton said Roth inspired him to be a better person, and he counted Roth among the people who had the biggest influence on his life—a list that included his own father, UCLA coach John Wooden, sportscaster Chick Hearn, author David Halberstam, and Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead.”
Bigelow described Roth as an ecumenical and pragmatic advocate for innovation who could work with persons who did not always agree with him on all issues. He was a conservative and active Republican, but his co-vice chair at at the stem cell agency, Art Torres, former chairman of the state Democratic Party, on more than one occasion has lauded Roth's ability to work together.

Bigelow wrote about similar remarks Friday by Don Rosenberg, an executive vice president and general counsel at Qualcomm.
“'Duane and I were as different as two people can be,' Rosenberg said during his eulogy at the Church of the Immaculata. 'Duane was born in Iowa, baptized in the Mennonite church, a Republican. And me, raised in Brooklyn, Jewish, a Democrat. We quickly learned we had more in common. We were kindred spirits. We liked the same things: Bikes, biking, cars, and people.'”
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