Prominent Alpha-1 researcher Maurizio Luisetti, MD, of Pavia, Italy, passed away on Monday, Oct. 20, after a brief illness.
He was 61 years old. “We have lost a dear friend and pioneer in Alpha-1 research,” said Alpha-1 Foundation President John Walsh. “Maurizio was a true gentleman and the ultimate diplomat who was a constant source of wisdom and encouragement as a member of our scientific leadership.”
An advisor to the Foundation, Luisetti was considered the “father” of the Italian Alpha-1 patient and research community, said Foundation Scientific Director Adam Wanner.
Luisetti was medical director at the Clinic of Respiratory Diseases, IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo for 20 years, and head of the clinic’s Laboratory of Biochemistry and Genetics for nearly 30 years in Pavia, where he coordinated an Alpha-1 research registry, testing program and research network. He was an adjunct professor at the University of Pavia’s School of Respiratory Diseases.
In October 2006, he became a professor at University of Turin and in 2010 was appointed professor of respiratory diseases at University of Pavia. In 2010, Luisetti was appointed director of the clinic’s Pneumology Foundation.
In addition to Luisetti’s research and more than 190 publications, his many achievements included an appointment as international governor of the American College of Chest Physicians in 1996, and being a founding member of the Alpha-1 International Registry. He was head of the Italian Registry for Severe Deficiency of Alpha-1 Antitrypsin’s Coordination Center.
Luisetti served on the editorial boards of American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Sarcoidosis, International Journal of COPD, Pulmonary Medicine, Monaldi Archives of Chest Disease, and Medicina Thoracica.
Luisetti, who organized many scientific conferences, was to be chair of the second Biennial International Research Conference on Alpha-1, to take place concurrent with the 2015 Alpha-1 International Patient Congress, April 9-11 in Barga, Italy.
He was a pervasive presence at the 2013 International Patient Congress in Barcelona, speaking on topics including “Contributions to the understanding of the natural history and genetic epidemiology of AATD over 50 years,” and “The status of Alpha-1 testing in Europe and the U.S. at the 2013 International Patient Congress.”
“Gordon and Maurizio were such good friends,” said Sally Everett, an Alpha, referring to her husband Gordon Snider, MD, whose important role in Alpha-1 research led the Alpha-1 Foundationto establish a research grant in his name this year. Snider passed away in 2013.
“They shared a passion for research on COPD and Alpha-1,” Everett said. “A truly sad day for his family, colleagues and all of us with Alpha-1 and COPD worldwide.”
Fellow researcher Francesco Bonella, MD, in announcing Luisetti’s passing, said, “Besides his outstanding competence and high international profile, Maurizio was a person with extraordinary humanity and commitment towards his patients and coworkers. He was always friendly and ready to help and cooperate. He strongly believed that progress in research depends on cooperation and networking.
“He will be sadly missed,” said Bonella, senior clinical researcher at Wissenschaftlicher Arzt-Prüfarzt Interstitial and Rare Lung Disease Unit. “We have to continue our work with passion and determination in his memory. Thank you, Maurizio, for all you have done and all you gave us in these years.”
Funeral arrangements are being handled by the Bonizzoni Funeral Home in Via Ciapessoni, Pavia. Luisetti’s funeral will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Church of San Lanfranco in Pavia.