Globally-Respected Pathologist Juan Rosai, MD, Dies at 79

In a career spanning five decades, he innovated and contributed many advances in pathology

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Internationally-respected pathologist Juan Rosai, MD, died on July 7, at the age of 79, in Milan, Italy.

Although born in Italy, his distinguished career in surgical pathology started in the United States in the early 1970s, where he practiced until moving to Italy in 1999.

Among many accomplishments, he is known for his textbook, “Rosai and Ackerman’s Surgical Pathology,” now in its 10th edition. He published more than 400 papers and his website “Juan Rosai Collection of Surgical Pathology Seminars” is an important resource for pathologists around the world.

Born in Poppi, Italy, a town in Tuscany, Rosai’s parents moved to Argentina when he was eight years old. Here is where his original first name of Giovanni was changed to the equivalent Spanish name Juan. He was just 15 when he enrolled in the University of Buenos Aires’ School of Medicine. By the age of 21, he had been awarded his MD and started an anatomic pathology residency at the same school.

Soon after, at a conference in Argentina, Rosai met pathologist Lauren Ackerman, MD, who invited him to train with him at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Mo. Rosai completed his residency and fellowship and joined the faculty there.

In 1974, Rosai became Professor and Director of Anatomic Pathology at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. In 1985, he accepted a similar position at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. He next accepted the position of Chairman of Pathology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City in 1999.

It was 2000 when Rosai moved permanently back to Italy to become Chairman of the Department of Anatomic Pathology at Milan’s Instituto Nazionale dei Tumori (National Cancer Institute).

For the next 20 years, Rosai kept active both in the United States and in Italy. For example, during these years he had professorships at Weill Cornell Medical College, Harvard University, and Massachusetts General Hospital. In the commercial sector, Rosai was a senior consulting pathologist at Genzyme Genetics (LabCorp).

He also was consultant pathologist for the Department of Pathology at the University of Utah and ARUP Laboratories. He provided surgical pathology consultations through telepathology while still working in Milan.

Rosai developed Parkinson’s disease in his late 60s. Sources say it was well-controlled over the years, but recent complications led to his death on July 7.

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