Remembering David Grimwade in Rome

The haematology community has recently suffered the loss of Dr David Grimwade, who died in London in October 2016 at the age of 53. He was Professor of Molecular Haematology in the Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics, King’s College London School of Medicine and Honorary Consultant Haematologist in Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. Since the early ‘90s, David Grimwade’s research had focused on the molecular characterization of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Among numerous activities, he has coordinated the work package on minimal residual disease in the European LeukemiaNet and molecular diagnostics in the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) in the UK, and has been an active member of the International Consortium on Acute Leukemia (IC-AL) serving as a chair of the laboratory subcommittee. His research activity has been internationally acknowledged and has significantly contributed to improving diagnosis, prognostic assessment and evaluation of response to treatment in patients with AML and APL.

We had the opportunity to collaborate with David and his team in a number of research projects including APL diagnostics and monitoring, genetics of AML and secondary leukemias. This gave us the privilege of developing a close relationship with him and meeting each other on many occasions. International scientific organisations and societies, amongst which the European Haematology Association and the American Society of Hematology and many colleagues have already highlighted David’s reputation as a scientist and haematologist. We would therefore like to take the chance to give a brief account of his affection for Italy and its haematologists, and especially for Rome.

Over the past 20 years, David was regularly invited as a speaker to numerous scientific meetings and workshops organized in our country. Two such meetings - namely the International Symposium on APL and the International Congress on Secondary Leukemias - are traditionally held in Rome. He had not missed any edition of these conferences and actively participated with us in organizing them as a member of the scientific committee. Often, he brought his lab students to attend and present their data and sometimes his family joined him as well. In these occasions, he loved to sample local cuisine and would ask recommendations for where to enjoy a good amatriciana or cacio e pepe pasta. On the following day, he would report back to us, usually with enthusiasm but also, if appropriate, with a gentle touch of criticism. He would invariably ask for new places to discover.

David last came to visit us in late September, for the 6th edition of the Congress on Secondary Leukemias, just a few weeks before dying. He had been diagnosed with oesophageal cancer one year earlier and had fought his battle against the tumour with impressive strength and determination. In spite of advanced disease he did not want to cancel his trip to Rome. His contribution to discussion at the meeting was, as always, timely and provocative.  David enjoyed yet another amatriciana with all the faculty. We were happy to see his wife and daughters come over for the week-end. They visited Ostia Antica, which David had wanted to see for many years, and had the chance to taste more Roman cuisine as well as one of his favourite ice creams. In spite of the circumstances, David enjoyed Rome once again - his wife Frances told us that their selfie together eating gelato and laughing became the screensaver on his mobile phone.

Ciao David. You will be much missed



Giuseppe Leone, Editor

Francesco Lo-Coco, Associate Editor 

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