Jennifer J. Raab Named President And CEO Of The New York Stem Cell Foundation

January 31, 2024

The New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) announced today that, following a nationwide search, its Board of Directors has named Hunter College President Emerita Jennifer J. Raab as its next President and Chief Executive Officer, effective this month.

NYSCF is one of the world’s leading nonprofit stem cell organizations, raising and investing more than $450 million since its founding in 2005 to accelerate cures for the major diseases of our time throughstem cell research.

The foundation conducts its own pioneering research at the NYSCF Research Institute laboratories in Manhattan, informs and convenes scientists and the public through educational initiatives, and supports a global community of leading early-career stem cell and neuroscience researchers.

NYSCF’s ongoing initiatives include:

  • using stem cells to restore vision in people with age-related macular degeneration;
  • discovering new therapies for diseases of the brain, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and multiple sclerosis;
  • inventing the most advanced automated cell biology platform in the world, and;
  • creating an Ethnic Diversity Biobank to make cells from ethnic minority populations readily available to researchers worldwide, ensuring a future in which all communities benefit equally from biomedical breakthroughs.

“We are delighted that Jennifer will be joining NYSCF and leading the organization to even greater heights of growth and innovation,” said Roy Geronemus, MD, NYSCF Board Chair and Search Committee Chair. “Her strategic vision and collaborative approach will enhance the culture of excellence at NYSCF. I believe that her extensive experience leading a large organization conducting its own cutting-edge research will help propel NYSCF into new frontiers of scientific discovery and impact for patients as we continue to make groundbreaking discoveries that will shape the future of medicine.”

Raab will deploy her longtime, effective support of science research, education, and teaching to build on NYSCF’s global legacy, nurturing a collaborative and dynamic environment that further empowers researchers and scientists at NYSCF’s own laboratory and beyond to make pivotal contributions to science and medicine. 

NYSCF scientists conduct research on many conditions, including diseases of the brain, cancer, and diabetes; develop new technologies to accelerate drug testing and to use stem cells therapeutically; and collaborate with major medical research and leading academic institutions around the world.

“NYSCF has already touched countless lives through its research, education, and advocacy, and is poised to transform millions more through its ongoing work to find cures for major diseases that affect our friends, neighbors, and communities,” said Raab. “I am both deeply honored and greatly inspired to have the opportunity to lead NYSCF into the future, and to build on its longstanding commitment to scientific excellence by advancing stem cell science.”

Scientists supported through NYSCF’s grant-making programs include Feng Zhang, PhD, a molecular biologist who played an integral part in the development of optogenetics and pioneered the use of CRISPR systems for genome editing; and Derrick Rossi, PhD, a leading stem cell scientist and biotech entrepreneur, and co-founder of Moderna Therapeutics.

Dr. Rossi, NYSCF Board Member and Interim Chief Executive Officer prior to Raab’s appointment, said: “Jennifer’s remarkable track record of leadership and her achievements in guiding a major institution makes her the ideal choice as our new President and CEO.

Her selection underscores our commitment to recruiting the most proven and inspiring professionals to help advance stem cell research and transform the field of regenerative medicine. We are proud to welcome her to NYSCF.”

“This era of biomedicine needs visionary, creative leaders, and I join my fellow board members in welcoming and celebrating Jennifer Raab as NYSCF’s next President and CEO,” said Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, Assistant Professor of medicine at Columbia University, NYSCF Board Member, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author. “She will bring a new perspective to NYSCF along with the breadth and depth of her previous professional experience, which will be of tremendous benefit to the critical work that lies ahead.”

Raab’s appointment at NYSCF is the latest milestone in a distinguished career in public service, higher education, and advocacy. Most notably she served as President of Hunter College for an unprecedented 22 years before stepping down in June 2023. During her remarkable tenure, she transformed Hunter into the ‘crown jewel’ of the City University of New York and a model for public higher education nationwide.

Under Raab’s leadership, the college dramatically improved student academic qualifications, retention, and graduation rates; attracted noted faculty, and funded and built new research and student space while exponentially growing Hunter’s endowment and dramatically expanding Hunter’s scientific programs.

Raab significantly expanded philanthropic support for the college, raising more than $531 million. Her efforts translated into major increases in student scholarships and in endowed faculty chairs, while providing unprecedented support for countless additional innovative academic initiatives. Concurrently, Raab vastly enlarged Hunter’s footprint in the arts and humanities, building new libraries, galleries, and theater space, establishing centers for Jewish Studies, Asian Studies, and other interdisciplinary initiatives, and rehabilitating and repurposing Roosevelt House into a vibrant public policy institute.

Her science-relatedachievements at Hunter included:the construction of a state-of-the-art research facility in Manhattan’s Weill Cornell Belfer Center that provides new laboratories for its scientists; the development of institutional partnerships with leading medical and scientific research institutions, including a $50 million NIH clinical translational research grant with Weill Cornell Medical College; and the dramatic expansion and development of Hunter’s campus science programs, including the recruitment of distinguished professors while securing increased grant funding.

Earlier in her career, Raab served as Chair of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, winning recognition for her effective and innovative stewardship of the agency tasked with safeguarding and conserving the city’s historic structures and architectural legacy. Previously, Raab was a litigator at Cravath, Swaine & Moore and at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, and a director of public affairs for the New York City Planning Commission. She also served on the NYC Charter Revision Commission under Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

A proud graduate of Hunter High School, Raab received her BA with distinction in all subjects from Cornell University, a Masters in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton, and a JD cum laude from Harvard Law School, where she was a writer and staff editor for the Women’s Law Journal.

Raab’s accomplishments have earned her many accolades, including election in 2016 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2022, she was awarded the Gold Honor Medal for distinguished service to society and humanity by the National Institute of Social Sciences. Raab has received additional honors from such organizations as the Martina Arroyo Foundation, Albany Law School, United Way of New York City, and the Kennedy Child Study Center.

Raab succeeds NYSCF’s founding CEO Susan L. Solomon, who passed away in September 2022 following 17 years at the helm of the organization, during which time she helped catalyze the field and transform the future of medical research.

“… we strive together to transform the lives of patients around the world …”

Raab added: “I look forward with great enthusiasm to working closely with the outstanding team at NYSCF as we strive together to transform the lives of patients around the world through innovative research that becomes life-saving medicine.”

The New York Stem Cell Foundation:

The New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) Research Institute is an independent non-profit organization accelerating cures and better treatments for patients through stem cell research. The NYSCF global community includes over 250 researchers at leading institutions worldwide, including the NYSCF-Druckenmiller Fellows, the NYSCF-Robertson Investigators, the NYSCF-Robertson Stem Cell Prize Recipients, and NYSCF Research Institute scientists and engineers.

The NYSCF Research Institute is an acknowledged world leader in stem cell research and in the development of pioneering stem cell technologies, including the NYSCF Global Stem Cell Array®, which is used to create cell lines for laboratories around the globe. NYSCF focuses on translational research in an accelerator model designed to overcome barriers that slow discovery and replace silos with collaboration.

Photo credit: Hunter College.

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