Soldano Ferrone, M.D., Ph.D

It is with great sadness that we inform you that our husband, father, grandfather, brother, friend, mentor, and colleague has left us. Soldano Ferrone MD PhD died on January 10, 2023 after an eight-week battle with COVID. He was 82. He was a giant in the field of immunology, an exemplary academician, a devoted teacher and mentor, an outstanding collegial scientist, and a loving husband, father, and grandfather.

It is impossible to adequately describe his enormous impact on the world of cancer immunology, translational research and the scientific community over the past sixty years. Over his broad career he held academic appointments at the University of Milan, Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation, University of California San Diego, Columbia University, New York Medical College, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, University of Pittsburgh and the Massachusetts General Hospital. He mentored countless young scientists over his lengthy career as a faculty member and 23 years of being the Chair of Microbiology and Immunology at two different institutions.

Born in Bella, Italy April 4, 1940, Soldano was the youngest of two children born to Dr. Luigi Ferrone and Rosa Ferrone. At the age of 10, he moved to Milan, Italy where he finished middle school and the Liceo Classico majoring in Latin and Greek . He attended the University of Milan for medical school graduating summa cum laude with a PhD in hematology in 1964. While in Brighton, England taking an English language course he met Agnes Unger, of Schramberg, Germany whom he later married on October 30, 1971. Agnes’ uncompromising support throughout their marriage allowed him to contribute so significantly to the field of cancer immunology.

His academic hunger soon took them from Milan, Italy to San Diego, CA. His dedication and drive as a young post-doctoral fellow allowed him to become an assistant professor within a year of arriving at Scripps and an associate professor with tenure in just four years. He quickly became a pioneer in B cell biology and the development of novel antibodies to cancer antigens.

However, it was his deep understanding of HLA and its role in tolerance and immune evasion that resulted in his recruitment to Columbia University as a Professor in 1981. In 1983 he was recruited to New York Medical College as the Chair of Microbiology and Immunology. After 16 years in Valhalla, he moved to Buffalo, NY to become the Chair of Immunology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute for seven years followed by five years at the University of Pittsburgh. His dedication to his family, especially his children, brought him to MGH in 2012 to continue working on novel immune strategies in pancreatic and hepatobiliary cancers, as well as sarcomas. He was tremendously excited to begin a new chapter at Cedars-Sinai where he planned to continue working with his daughter.

Soldano’s inclusive personality, humility and generosity with his time and resources greatly enhanced the professional lives of his colleagues and mentees. With over 700 peer reviewed publications, over 380 other scientific publications, the editor of 19 books, and holder of over 15 patents he made incredible contributions to the understanding of the cellular and molecular level escape mechanisms utilized by tumor cells to avoid recognition and destruction by the host’s immune system. He used his vast knowledge to develop and implement combinatorial tumor antigen-specific antibody-based immunotherapeutic strategies with a large panel of unique monoclonal antibodies which he developed over the years.

While his accomplishments and contributions are immense, what brought him true joy were his four grandchildren, family, friends, and time at the beach in Italy.
Agnes was the love of his life. She provided him tireless support throughout their 52 years of marriage. He was immensely proud of his two children. Their respect for his dedication and scientific rigor brought them to surgical oncology and orthopedic oncology.

He is survived by his wife Agnes Ferrone, daughter Cristina Ferrone, son Marco Ferrone, son-in-law Joseph Schwab, daughter-in-law Courtney Dawson, grandchildren Peter, Annamaria and Joseph Schwab and Andrew Ferrone, as well as his brother and sister-in-law Pio and Marina Ferrone.

Relatives and friends are kindly invited to attend visiting hours in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of Cathedral of the Holy Cross, 1400 Washington Street, Boston on Sunday, January 15, 2023 from 2-4pm. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated in the church on Monday January 16, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Burial will be held in Bella, Italy in July.

In lieu of flowers, gifts in memory of Soldano Ferrone MD PhD may be made either to the Cedars-Sinai Department of Surgery Immunology Research Fund or the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Surgery Research Fund.
Contact : Gregg Simpson: [email protected]
Contact: Meagan Coons: [email protected]

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