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Local scientists Fava, Loda, Pandolfi knighted by Republic of Italy

From left: Maurizio Fava, Massimo Loda, Pier Paolo Pandolfi, Nicola De Santis

From left: Maurizio Fava, Massimo Loda, Pier Paolo Pandolfi, Nicola De Santis

Maurizio Fava, director of the Clinical Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, Massimo Loda, director of the Center for Molecular Oncologic Pathology at the Dana Faber Cancer Institute, and Pier Paolo Pandolfi, director of the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), have recently been knighted by their native country of Italy.

Maurizio Fava

Prof. Maurizio Fava receiving the Order of the Star of Italy medal from Consul General Nicola De Santis (photo ©Nicola Orichuia)

Prof. Maurizio Fava receiving the Order of the Star of Italy medal from Consul General Nicola De Santis (photo ©Nicola Orichuia)

Dr. Fava obtained his medical degree from the University of Padova School of Medicine and completed residency training in endocrinology there. He completed residency training in psychiatry at Mass. General Hospital (MGH). He founded and was Director of the MGH Depression Clinical and Research Program (DCRP) from 1990 until 2014. Under Dr. Fava’s direction, the DCRP became one of the most highly regarded depression programs in the country, conducting research in pharmacotherapy of resistant depression, neuroimaging, genetics, neurophysiology, neuroendocrinology, novel pharmacotherapies, alternative medicine, and psychotherapy. Dr. Fava successfully obtained funding for his program, as principal or co-principal investigator, from the NIH and industry for a total of more than $60,000,000 in the past 23 years. Since 2007, he has been Director of the MGH Clinical Trials Network and Institute, an academic CRO specialized in multicenter trials and in the use of innovative research methodologies. In 2014, Dr. Fava was selected as Director of MGH’s Clinical Research Program (CRP).

Dr. Fava authored or co-authored more than 600 original articles in medical journals with international circulation. He has also edited eight books, and published more than 50 chapters and 500 abstracts. Dr. Fava is a well-known speaker, having given more than 350 presentations at national and international meetings. He is currently Director, MGH’s CRP, Executive Vice Chair for the MGH Dept. of Psychiatry, Executive Director, CTNI, and Slater Family Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Massimo Loda

Prof. Massimo Loda receiving the Order of the Star of Italy medal from Consul General Nicola De Santis (photo ©Nicola Orichuia)

Prof. Massimo Loda receiving the Order of the Star of Italy medal from Consul General Nicola De Santis (photo ©Nicola Orichuia)

Dr. Loda received his M.D. summa cum laude at the University of Milan, Italy. He is a physician-scientist, Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School, an independent investigator at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Associate Member of the Broad Institute and senior surgical pathologist at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston. Dr. Loda conceived, built and directs a state of the art Center for Molecular Oncologic Pathology at the Dana Faber Cancer Institute. Dr. Loda is one of the pioneer molecular pathologists in the world and has discovered, and explored the mechanism of function of several important cancer biomarkers.

His basic research is focused on prostate cancer carcinogenesis and his most important accomplishments include the definition of cell lineage in the prostate in a blastocyst complementation murine model; the discovery of targeted ubiquitination and inactivation of the cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor p27 in human cancer; the discovery of the role of a de-ubiquitinating enzyme (USP2a) in stabilizing a key metabolic enzyme, subsequently proving that this enzyme (Fatty Acid Synthase) is a “metabolic oncogene”. This led, most recently, to the discovery of specific metabolomic profiles associated with driving oncogenes in genetically engineered prostate cells, transgenic mice and human tumors.

Pier Paolo Pandolfi

Prof. Pier Paolo Pandolfi receiving the Order of the Star of Italy medal from Consul General Nicola De Santis (photo ©Nicola Orichuia)

Prof. Pier Paolo Pandolfi receiving the Order of the Star of Italy medal from Consul General Nicola De Santis (photo ©Nicola Orichuia)

Pandolfi, an internationally recognized cancer geneticist who has lived in the United States since 1994 and is now an American citizen, was honored on June 2 at the Italian consulate.

The award, “Officer of the Order of the Star of Italy,” is bestowed each year on about 50 individuals by the President of the Italian Republic. Awardees may be Italians in Italy, Italians living abroad or non-Italians who have helped celebrate or advance Italian culture.

“This honor belongs to my entire team,” said Pandolfi, “but it is especially humbling for me to be recognized by my own country for our efforts to cure cancer and alleviate suffering. The honor makes me more motivated than ever in the quest to eradicate cancer.”

Pandolfi was named director of the Cancer Center at BIDMC in 2013. He is perhaps best known for his work identifying the molecular basis of acute promyelocytic leukemia and for the creation of a “mouse hospital” to help advance targeted cancer treatments. His laboratory has also enhanced scientific understanding of tumor suppressors and proto-oncogenes and has taken a prominent lead in the study of noncoding RNA, a promising new direction in the pursuit of targeted cancer therapies.

Pandolfi has received many awards and honors, including, the prestigious Pezcoller Foundation–AACR International Award for Cancer Research from the American Association for Cancer Research in 2011. He has also received the Leukemia Society of America (LSA) Scholar Award, the Irma T. Hirschl Trust Award, the Alexandra J. Kefalides Memorial Prize for Leukemia Research, the Hamdan Award for Medical Research Excellence, the Lombroso Prize for Cancer Research of the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Stohlman Scholar Award, the William and Linda Steere Foundation Award, the Prostate Cancer Foundation Creativity Award, the prize for Scientific Excellence in Medicine from the American-Italian Cancer Foundation, and a National Institutes of Health Merit Award.

About Nicola Orichuia

Nicola is an Italian journalist and media enthusiast living in the United States. He keeps an eye on the Italian-American communities across the country and is always looking for positive stories to highlight.