The Sentinel


Thursday, March 25, 2021

SITC Remembers Giorgio Parmiani, MD

The Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) remembers the life and scientific contributions of Giorgio Parmiani, MD. Dr. Parmiani brought his expertise to the society as a member in a number of ways, including serving on the World Immunotherapy Council and as an Associate Editor of the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer (JITC) from 2013–2019.

In 2008, Dr. Parmiani received the society’s highest honor, the Richard V. Smalley Memorial Award and Lectureship, and he delivered his keynote address at that year’s Annual Meeting titled, “Different Tumor Antigens in the Immunotherapy of Cancer: Are we Selecting the Right Target?” His research focused on the molecular characterization of human tumor antigens and the T cell response to them, significantly furthering our knowledge of cancer vaccines and anti-cancer immune responses. He was also a key leader in developing the Italian Network for Tumor Biotherapy, an organization that has contributed greatly to the field of cancer immunology and immunotherapy over the last few decades.

Dr. Parmiani was a beloved member of the SITC family, and several members below share further in his remembrance:

“Giorgio Parmiani, MD, PhD, was an internationally recognized scientist and physician who dedicated his life’s work to understanding the immune response to cancer and using it to improve outcomes of patients with cancer. During his tenure he trained a large number of scientists and physicians, and built a strong and robust group in Milan that continues to do amazing things. Giorgio was also a statesman who worked to unite much of the tumor immunology and immunotherapy community of Italy. He founded the Network Italiano per la Biotherapia dei Tumori (NIBIT) and served as its first President. Giorgio was a classic Milanese gentleman with great style who loved to host visiting colleagues in Milan. On one visit to his lab I remarked about the photos in his office of visitors who had come to visit at the Istituto Tumori. From our discussions it was clear that Giorgio was interested in the people who were the scientists and physicians in the field. In 2001 I was able to host Professor Parmiani as a Chiles Visiting Professor in Portland, Oregon. It was delightful and I was grateful to have our students, fellows and faculty interact with Giorgio and hear his perspective on the immune response against melanoma. However, for Giorgio it wasn’t only about cancer. It is hard for me to remember a time when we met where we did not discuss our spouses and children.

"I will miss Giorgio. He was a pioneering scientist and physician who had a great impact on the field of cancer immunotherapy, but he was also a kind and friendly heart that I admired for so many reasons.”Bernard A. Fox, PhD (Earle A. Chiles Research Institute, Providence Cancer Institute) 

“Giorgio was a teacher, a mentor, an example to follow. He was 'the immuno-oncologist' for all of us who were the believers in the field. If today there were an Italian school of oncologists dedicated to the field, it's his merit. He was also a father and, at the same time, a friend for us. He inspired all of our work with his research and ideas. This is a very sad moment for us. We should take his example as a model to inspire the new generation.”Paolo A. Ascierto, MD (Istituto Nazionale Tumori IRCCS Fondazione 'G. Pascale') 

“Giorgio was an example for me as young postgraduate of medicine; he was the type of translational researcher I was fascinated with. At that time and as many others, I was not sure that immunotherapy could have a bright future but his unwavering belief guided me. He actually put me in touch with Nick Restifo and helped to join his group at NIH. This experience changed my career for good and I truly owe Giorgio what I am today. Among his many activities, he founded the Italian network for immunotherapy and served as its first President. I will always remember his dynamic nature, the deep knowledge, and the fervent scientific discussions. We will all miss Giorgio.”Vincenzo Bronte, MD (University of Verona) 

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