David and Joan Traitel

David and Joan Traitel


The Gladstone Institutes community mourns the loss of David Traitel, one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s most ardent and thoughtful philanthropists. David, who passed away on October 31, 2020, is survived by his wife Joan and their two children. David and Joan were famous for their themed terrace parties, love of music, and passionate support of local institutions, including Gladstone, UC San Francisco, the Hoover Institution, and the San Francisco Opera. They took an interest in Gladstone’s neurological disease research nearly a decade ago and were instrumental in launching studies on the mechanisms behind some of the most devastating and intractable brain diseases. “The support our research program received from David and Joan over the last several years has been both enabling and inspiring,” says Lennart Mucke, MD, director of the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease. “Their philanthropy has given us the ability to pursue high-risk, high-gain research and led to meaningful discoveries that brought us closer to finding better treatments for Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.”

Early this year, David and Joan hosted “A Night With Neurology,” featuring Gladstone faculty at The Vintage Club in Indian Wells, and filled the ballroom with friends from all over the country. Afterward, David stationed himself at a table in the middle of the dining room asking questions and telling stories late into the evening.

“David was one of the most incisive and tenacious people I have known,” says Ken Nakamura, MD, PhD, associate investigator at Gladstone. “I greatly admired his passion and will to push forward and never give up, no matter how steep the challenge, and always with courage and dignity. We shared a driving commitment to cure Parkinson’s disease, and he was a great source of inspiration. He firmly believed in the critical need for disease-focused fundamental science and hoped to rally others to support biomedical research. David was also a loving father and devoted friend to many, and we will greatly miss him.”

David leaves an indelible mark on the local arts, higher education, and medical research communities. Together with Joan, few people have done more to foster the creativity, diversity of thought, and intellectual daring that have made the Bay Area a hub for innovation and discovery for decades.

“I had a chance to get to know David over the last few years,” says Gladstone President Deepak Srivastava, MD. “It was very clear that his interest in people and passion for quality led to his success in business and in philanthropy. I wish he could have lived to see the future breakthroughs he and Joan have made possible. What a smile it would have brought to his face!”

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