The IRVA community, and the viral oncology research field in general, lost one of its precious contributors when Luigi Chieco-Bianchi died unexpectedly on June 23, 2023. We express our deepest sympathy to Luigi’s wife Anna Maria, their daughters Fulvia, Maria Alessandra and Antonella, and their families.
Gino, his nickname for friends and colleagues, was born on April 24, 1933, in Bari, Italy. He earned his M.D. at the University of Bari in 1957 and Specialty degree in Pathology in 1960 at the same University. He remained at the University of Bari until 1965, when he moved to the University of Padova. In 1975 Gino was promoted to the position of Full Professor in the Medical School’s Oncology program. In 1986 he founded and was appointed as the director of the University’s Institute of Oncology. In 1996 the Institute was integrated into the Department of Oncology and Surgical Sciences, which he directed until 2001. Gino served as vice dean of Medicine Faculty from 1993 to 1995. At the regional level, Gino acted as Coordinator of the Veneto region’s Oncology Center (1993 – 1996), the precursor of the Veneto Institute of Oncology IOV-IRCCS, Comprehensive Cancer Center; he was indeed instrumental in promoting the establishment of the IOV. Gino served on many technical/scientific committees, including the Italian Health Ministry’s AIDS program, the Italian Association for Research on Cancer, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the European Union Cancer Research Forum.
Gino was a pioneer in retrovirology. His interest in the field was sparked by a stage in Prof. A. Graffi’s lab at Berlin’s Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften in 1961 to study the immunology and oncogenic properties of murine retroviruses. The discovery of human retroviruses led Gino to concentrate his efforts on understanding the molecular biology, epidemiology and host response to HTLV and HIV. Periods as a visiting scientist at the Fondation Curie (Paris), the Weizmann Institute (Rehovoth), the Sloan Kettering Institute (New York), the National Cancer Institute (Bethesda), the Harvard School of Public Health (Boston) and other internationally renowned institutes contributed to enrich his broad expertise in oncology. In 1987 Gino’s contribution to science in Italy was recognized with an award from the nationally prestigious Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei.
Gino was a member of many scientific associations and served as president of several, including the HTLV-1 European Research Network (HERN) and the International Association for Comparative Research on Leukemia and Related Diseases (IACRLRD). Many IRVA members have attended scientific meetings that Gino organized, such as one of the first HERN meetings, the 31st International Workshop on Retroviral Pathogenesis (2019), and semiannual International Workshops on Viruses, Genes and Cancer held at the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti (IVSLA), in Venice. Gino was an active member of the IVSLA for more than 20 years – indeed, his intellectual interests extended well beyond science to music, the visual arts, and travel.
Gino never really retired – up to a few months ago he came to the lab several times a week on his bicycle, and just last week he was helping to revise a manuscript on HTLV-1 pathogenesis. All who had the privilege of interacting with Gino appreciated his uniquely respectful attitude toward others and efforts to bring out the best in everyone. Gino’s lab coat will continue to occupy its usual place at the IOV as a symbol of his tireless enthusiasm for research and researchers
HTLV petition | Maertens Lab