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Hematologist Francesco Lo Coco, MD, Dies in Rome at 63


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Francesco Lo Coco, MD

Francesco Lo Coco, MD

Hematologist Francesco Lo Coco, MD, known for his research accomplishments in both acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), died in Rome on March 3, 2019. He was 63.

After graduating from the Medical School in Pisa, he moved to La Sapienza University of Rome in 1981. From 1992 to 1994, Dr. Lo Coco was a visiting researcher at the Institute for Cancer Genetics of Columbia University in New York. After returning to Italy in 1994, he collaborated with colleagues around the world in researching the molecular characterization of promyelocytic leukemia, which provided the basis for the modern treatment of this hematologic malignancy. In fact, Dr. Lo Coco was among the leaders who successfully initiated the treatment of APL with arsenic trioxide combined with retinoic acid.

Since 2005, he was Professor of Hematology at Tor Vergata University in Rome and led the oncologic hematology laboratory there. Over the years, Dr. Lo Coco held various positions in several scientific societies and research organizations, including the Italian Society of Experimental Hematology (EHA; President 2000–2002), the American Society of Hematology, the Italian Ministry of Health, and the European Hematology Association (Chairman, Education Committee 2008–2013). He also served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Leukemia, and Haematologica.

Among the many national and international awards received by Dr. Lo Coco during his career was the José Carreras award in 2018. This award was granted by the European Hematology Association for outstanding contributions to research and treatment of AML.

Collegial Tributes

“In addition to being an outstanding hematologist, and clinical and innovative investigator, Frances Lo Coco was a warm personality and a great friend,” shared Pieter Sonneveld, MD, PhD, EHA President. “It was an honor and pleasure to work with him. We will miss him sorely.”

William Arcese, MD, Professor of Hematology, Tor Vergata University and Director of the Stem Cell Transplant Unit and Rome Transplant Network, offered these comments on the passing of Dr. Lo Coco: “Persons like Francesco Lo Coco are rare to meet in life, and this awareness makes his loss hardest to bear.” 


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