Spain 2013: Mauro Piacentini


In the mid 1980’s Mauro Piacentini began to publish articles on the transglutaminases, and he quickly realized that they had a role to play in the then emerging field of apoptosis. He attended one of the first conferences focused on cell death and apoptosis, in Sardinia in 1989, and from then on he talked about the importance of the field and the need to recognize it formally. Since that time he has been a leader in both the research and the presentation of the field. He was a founding editor of Cell Death and Differentiation, which he has led to its current high status among journals, and is a deputy editor of Cell Death and Disease. He was an active participant and enthusiastic supporter of the first Gordon Conference on Cell Death and has subsequently served as Chair of the conference. He was one of the founders of the European Cell Death Organization, and has served as its Vice President and President. He can be found at virtually every important gathering of the field, articulating his view of current research and where it is heading.

In his research he has ranged from transglutaminase to the study of AIDS, where he was one of the first to describe the importance of cell death in AIDS and the mechanism by which HIV triggered cell death. More recently he has turned his attention to the interaction of apoptosis and autophagy, and the role of AMBRA1 in autophagy. Included among his almost 250 papers are insightful and often the first papers on many aspects of cell death and apoptosis.

He has taken his interests to the world, organizing meetings throughout Europe and elsewhere, and organizing courses in Argentina, Brazil, and Cuba, among other countries, and, in conjunction with the ICDS, in Iran, Turkey, and South Africa.

He serves as Professor and member of the Board of Directors of the University of Rome “Tor Vergata,” and ECDO, and is the Director of Basic Research at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases and has been on the Board of Directors of ICDS since its founding. For all these achievements, he has justly been honored by agencies in Italy, Belgium, Slovenia, and Japan and has won the Descartes Award of the European Commission. We are pleased to add the name of the International Cell Death Society to those recognizing the achievements of Mauro Piacentini.