Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America Visionary, Irwin Rosenthal, Dies at 87

Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America Visionary, Irwin Rosenthal, Dies at 87

Irwin M. Rosenthal, lawyer, philanthropist, entrepreneur, and co-founder of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) has died at the age of 87. Rosenthal and his wife Suzanne; William and Shelby Modell; and Dr. Henry D. Janowitz, founded the Foundation for Research in Ileitis in 1967, now called CCFA. The success of the foundation was motivated by his persistence, empathy, and love for his wife.

“On behalf of the 1.6 million Americans battling IBD [inflammatory bowel disease], we are incredibly grateful to Irwin for his leadership,” Michael Osso, president and CEO of CCFA, said in a press release. “He was best known for his ability to empower others, like his wife Suzanne, and provide them with the support and encouragement to shine. We would not be where we are today without Irwin’s vision and determination. We are forever grateful to both of the Rosenthals for all that they have done to advance IBD research and care.”

In 1956, Suzanne Rosenthal began struggling with incapacitating symptoms. Because doctors were uncertain of the cause, she was misdiagnosed and mistreated. When she received the diagnosis of ileo-colitis, her husband was frustrated because there was no cure for the disease.

In 1965, Mr. Rosenthal contacted Janowitz, his wife’s gastroenterologist at Mount Sinai Hospital, and sked him what he could do to help with research into the disease. He begun raising funds from friends and members of his synagogue, and was able to raise $25,000, considered a remarkable sum at that time.

Janowitz offered his medical knowledge, while Rosenthal offered his legal and political guidance. Modell, chairman of the board of Modell’s Sporting Goods, whose son also had the disease, joined as a co-founder and offered his fundraising skills.

In 1967, with a research award of $32,000, the Foundation for Research in Ileitis began. For the first 10 years, Rosenthal served as president of the foundation. He was also the co-founder of the Digestive Disease National Coalition.

With his work, CCFA has financially supported more than $300 million for research in the disease, which has led to the development of innovative treatments. Rosenthal’s heritage will continue into the next generations of researchers, doctors, volunteers, and patients.

Rosenthal graduated from Columbia University and received his J.D. from Yale University Law School. He also earned an LLM Masters in Tax from NYU Graduate School of Law.

He was the founder, manager partner, and chairman of Securities and Corporate Practice at Weiss, Bronston, Rosenthal Heller & Schwartzman LLP, and the senior managing partner of securities law at Botein, Hayes & Sklar; Rubin Baum Levin Constant & Friedman; and Phillips Nizer LLP.

Rosenthal was also the co-chair of federal securities of the American Bar Association, and has served on the board of advisors for Mount Sinai Hospital. He served on the board of directors at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York, where he was an adjunct professor of securities law. He also served his country in the Korean War, where Rosenthal served as captain and chief legal officer of relations between the Air Force and the U.S. airlines, and helped create the Civil Reserve Air Fleet Program. He was responsible for the initial public offerings (IPOs) of companies such as Integrated Resources and SYMS Corp., and was the co-founder and director of many medical companies.

CCFA is now the leader in research, education, and patient support for IBD. His daughters, Robin J. Mehler and Karen B. Rosenthal, and grandchildren Jack Mehler, Jenna Mehler, and Abby Ebrahimoff continue his legacy of support and involvement.