In memoriam: Prof Francesco Lo Coco

On Sunday, March 3, Prof Francesco Lo Coco, outstanding hematologist, friend and a great man of dialogue, suddenly passed away. This event has struck the hematology community with intense grief.

Francesco Lo Coco is known for his work in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). He is one of the leaders who successfully initiated the treatment of Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL) patients with arsenic trioxide combined with retinoic acid. He has published over 400 original articles in peer-reviewed international journals. His field of work has significantly contributed to improve patient outcome and provided several important concepts with general implications in the therapy of leukemia and cancer.

Francesco Lo Coco served in several scientific societies and research organizations such as the Italian Society of Experimental Hematology (President, 2000-2002), the Italian Ministry of Health (2001-2003), the American Society of Hematology (various functions, 2008-2015), Fondazione Veronesi (2012-2015), the Associazone Italiana Contro le Leucemie-Linfomi e Mieloma (AIL) and the Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro (AIRC). He also served on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Clinical Oncology (2010-2013), Leukemia (1996-2013) and Haematologica (1994-2018).

For the European Hematology Association, Francesco Lo Coco was Chairman of the Education Committee from 2008 to 2013. Over the years he contributed to many activities of the Association, participated in many meetings and his colleagues at EHA got to know him as an active and warm personality. Last year, he was granted the EHA José Carreras award for his outstanding contributions to the research and treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

Prof Le Coco web3

Prof Francesco Lo Coco received the Jose Carreras Award 2018 from Prof Pieter Sonneveld, EHA President at EHA23 in Stockholm, Sweden.

The José Carreras Award is only one of the distinctions he received throughout his impressive career. He  also received  the International Prize G. Di Guglielmo, awarded by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (1992), the Commendatore al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (2013), the Sapio Award for Italian Research (Health section, 2014), the Tata Memorial Center Oration, Mumbay, India (2015), the G. Venosta Prize, AIRC (2016) and the P. Stryckmans Memorial Lecture (Belgian Society of Hematology, 2017).

In addition to being an outstanding hematologist, and clinical and innovative investigator, Francesco Lo Coco was a warm personality and great friend. It was an honor and pleasure to work with him. We will miss him sorely. Our sympathy goes to his family and friends.

Pieter Sonneveld, EHA President

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George Dickey, APL survivor, Canada


I am very shocked and saddened to hear of Dr. LoCoco’s passing. He was a life saver for myself and hundreds of others with APL. I was hoping to meet him on my upcoming trip to Italy this summer to thank him in person for his wonderful work. Please accept my heartfelt condolences.

Panos Panayiotidis


A great loss for the hematogical community!



The death of Francesco Lo Coco, leaves an unbridgeable gap in the community of hematologists. All those who knew him lost an enlightened colleague,a friend available and rich in humanity

Hari Menon


I am filled with a sense of profound shock to hear about the passing of Prof Lo Coco. Such a wonderful human being, with such humility. Had the pleasure to meet and interact with him on several occasions particularly when he came and delivered that fantastic oration at Tata Memorial like only he can. He was a friend of India. My colleagues and I will miss him sorely. The area of APL will miss his illuminating presence



first of all a friend colleague, then a gentleman, lastly a scientist. A terrible mourning

Nóirín O’Neill APL Survivor


“The history of Acute Promyelocytic Leukaemia (APL) is one of the most fascinating stories in the history of medicine.” Francesco Lo-Coco, Professor of Haematology.

It is thanks to Prof Francesco Lo CoCo and his team that APL was transformed from a highly fatal disease to a highly curable disease. It is thanks to Prof Francesco Lo CoCo that I survived APL 15 years ago.

I had the pleasure of helping Prof Lo CoCo last year as an APL survivor and had the privilege of speaking to him many times. He was a kind caring soul who was passionate about APL and the patient community will be ever grateful to him.

Sincere sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues in the haematology community.

Peter Mollee Chair Australasian Leukaemia and Lymphoma Group


7 March 2019

It is with great sadness that we must advise the haematology community in Australia and New Zealand of the tragic death of Professor Francesco Lo Coco on 3 March 2019 at the age of 63.
Internationally renowned for his numerous achievements in acute leukaemia, including as recipient of the José Carreras Award, Prof Lo Coco was especially recognised for his inspirational clinical and laboratory research in acute promyelocytic leukaemia.
Prof Lo Coco led the GIMEMA group’s APL clinical trial program which pioneered the AIDA-based protocols, and subsequently demonstrated the superiority of a chemotherapy-free ATRA and arsenic protocol for patients with standard-risk APL.
Together with Miguel Sanz, he was the driving force behind the highly successful quadrennial International APL Symposia and the recently published update of the European LeukemiaNet guidelines on the diagnosis and management of APL. Prof Lo Coco’s work benefitted haematologists and patients enormously, and he leaves behind a great legacy in what was once an almost uniformly fatal disease.
Francesco was a personal friend to many Australian and New Zealand haematologists. He will be remembered for his charm, generosity, brilliance and compassion, and he will be greatly missed.

Peter Mollee

William Stevenson

Harry Iland
APL Clinical Trial Leader

Dr Syed Hassan


All across the globe - East to West and North to South, he was the most respected Hematologist, a generous soul full of compassion, gentle to the core of heart, down to earth gentleman, a phiolosopher and an orator of exceptional skills who has changed the paradidgm of acute promyelocytic leukemia by dedicating his entire life with relentless work. Professor Francesco Lo-Coco is no more with us. The life will never be same again for me. I am unable to find words to express my grief of losing him. How hard it will be to feel your absence. You are my mentor, a father-like figure to me, a person who has shaped my scientific career. Rest in peace.You shall remain with me always... An irreparable loss.