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Outside the Lab Profession

In Memoriam: Juan Rosai

Born in Italy, Juan Rosai spent his early years in Argentina, where he received his medical degree and began his pathology career under the tutelage of Eduardo Lascano. He then moved to the US and joined Lauren V. Ackerman at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri – a position from which he advanced to key roles at the University of Minnesota, Yale University, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center before returning to Italy in 1991 to join Milan’s Instituto Nazionale dei Tumori. In 2005, he created the Center for Oncologic Pathology Consultations at the Centro Diagnostico Italiano in Milan.

Rosai received many honors throughout his life, including the Council of the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology’s Distinguished Pathologist Award, the International Academy of Pathology’s Golden Medal Award, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s Fred Waldorf Stewart Award. He was a Life Trustee of the American Board of Pathology, an Honorary Member of the UK’s Royal College of Pathologists, and a holder of four honorary doctorates.

Rosai’s magnum opus was Rosai and Ackerman’s Surgical Pathology. Translated into multiple languages, the textbook remains a classic of surgical pathology.

During his illustrious career, he published more than 400 papers, book chapters, and monographs. He served as Editor of the third series of Pathology Atlases from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. His history of surgical pathology, Guiding the Surgeon’s Hand, is a scholarly treatise to be read by generations of young surgical pathologist to come. Rosai’s magnum opus, however, was Rosai and Ackerman’s Surgical Pathology. Translated into multiple languages including Spanish, Chinese, Italian and Croatian, the textbook – now on its 10th edition – remains a classic of surgical pathology.

By the time this text is published, there will be numerous other testimonials, memorials, and homages to this great pathologist. Perusing some of that have already been published or sent to me privately, I decided to compile a subjective list of superlatives about Juan Rosai. He has  been referred to as the “foremost surgical pathologist of our generation,” “giant among the pathologists,” “last of the great generalists,” “legendary diagnostician,” “the pathologist with the most powerful and intelligent operational memory,” “stuff for legends,” “primus inter pares who defined the golden age of classical surgical pathology, ushering the era of molecular pathology,” “Maradona of surgical pathology,” “eclectic scholar with an encyclopedic knowledge of his subject,” “one of the most entertaining lecturers,” “most generous,” and “the best consultant I ever met.”

Rather than add yet another superlative to this list, I give you Hamlet’s words: “He was a man. Take him for all in all. I shall not look upon his like again.” Although Juan Rosai is no longer with us, his imprint on pathology will remain.

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About the Author

Ivan Damjanov

Ivan Damjanov is Professor Emeritus of Pathology at the University of Kansas, Kansas City, USA.

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