OBITUARY - Gian Franco BOTTAZO (1946-2017)

Gian Franco Bottazzo, 'father of islet cell autoantibodies' dies prematurely at 71.

Gian Franco Bottazzo, Italian physician and researcher, was born in Venice, Italy, in 1946. He obtained his M.D. degree from Padua University in 1971, completed post-graduate studies in Allergy and Immunology at the University of Florence in 1974, earned a Diploma in Endocrinology from Padua University in 1979.

In a landmark paper published in 1974, Gian Franco Bottazzo, Deborah Doniach and colleagues showed that type 1 diabetes is associated with the development of antibodies directed against insulin-producing beta cells. This pioneering discovery opened the way to investigations of autoimmunity as a basic pathogenic event not only in pancreatic islet cells leading to type 1 diabetes mellitus, but also in the loss of other endocrine cells such as those of the thyroid and pituitary gland. Achievements include the discovery of islet cell autoantibodies, several new autoantibodies in endocrine autoimmunity, aberrant HLA class II molecule expression in autoimmune thyrocytes.

Welcome Research Fellow, Middlesex Hospital, London (1975-1977), lecturer in clinical immunology, (1977-1980), senior lecturer in clinical immunology (1980-1983), reader in clinical immunology (1984-1989). Professor and Head, Department of immunology, The London Medical College (1991-1998). Honorary consultant at the Middlesex Hospital Medical School (1980-1991) and The Royal Hospital, London (1991-1998). Scientific director Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù, Rome since 1998. Medical and Scientific Director of The Autoimmune Diseases Charitable Trust, London (1992-2002).

Honors: Commendatore of the Italian Republic for scientific merits (Rome, 1986); the Oskar Minkowski Price (1982), The King Faisal International Award in Medicine (1986), Laurea Honoris Causa in Medicine, University of Nantes (France, 1990); the R.D. Lawrence Prize and the Banting Medal from the American Diabetes Association (1992).

He was a good friend of Keith Taylor (the founder of the VIDIS group), they were frequently together in London.

His contributions to science and health and his warm and sincere friendship will always be remembered.

He is survived by his dearest wife Lamya and daughter Dana, an international lawyer.

  • Bottazzo GF, Florin-Christensen A, Doniach D. Islet-cell antibodies in diabetes mellitus with autoimmune polyendocrine deficiencies. Lancet. 1974 Nov 30;2(7892):1279-83. PubMed PMID: 4139522.

  • Bottazzo GF, Doniach D. Autoimmune thyroid disease. Annu Rev Med. 1986;37:353-9. Review. PubMed PMID: 2871804.

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