We are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend and champion, Nanci Ryder.
Nanci was an amazing woman who worked tirelessly to improve the lives of others. As a Hollywood publicist, Nanci excelled at establishing the careers of rising stars. Her clients included Renee Zellweger, Michael J. Fox, Courteney Cox, Don Diamont, and countless others. However, in 2014, Nanci developed ALS, a terminal neurodegenerative disease.
That same year, Nanci came to visit us at the Eli and Edythe Broad CIRM Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC to learn about how we were using patient stem cells to develop new treatments for ALS. The first thing I noticed was that her friends really loved her, and I came to understand why. Everything Nanci did was to help those around her.
Though as a Hollywood publicist, she had devoted her life to her clients’ wellbeing, she now focused on motivating scientists to find a cure for ALS. Nanci participated in many, many patient advocacy events over the past 6 years, including inspiring 3,000 stem cell scientists at the 2019 International Society for Stem Cell Research meeting to find a cure for ALS. These events were not easy for her, but she did them because she knew they would help future ALS patients.
We’ll miss Nanci. She’s given us a lifetime of inspiration.