Gian Franco Bottazzo was born in Venice, Italy, in 1946. He graduated in medicine from Padu University 1971, completed post-graduate studies in allergy and immunology at the University of Florence in 1974 and obtained a Diploma in endocrinology from Padova University in 1979. He held several medical and scientific positions, mostly in London, and was a Professor of Immunology at London’s Middlesex Hospital School of Medicine. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists and the Royal College of Physicians of the United Kingdom. Professor Bottazzo is currently Director of the Research Institute and the Hospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesu in Rome, Italy.
Over the past several decades, Professor Bottazzo has carried out extensive research on autoimmune diseases, particularly diabetes. A world authority in diabetes, Bottazzo discovered the association between type 1 diabetes and the development of antibodies directed against the insulinsecreting beta cells of the pancreatic islets of Langerhans. Thereafter, he demonstrated antigens relating to the HLA system, which controls the body’s immune defenses, on the surface of damaged beta cells. The discovery of the link between a patient’s genetic make-up and the development of auto-immunity to the islet’s beta cells has opened the door for new approaches to the prevention of diabetes mellitus.
Professor Bottazzo’s distinguished contributions to diabetes research were recognized by several honors, including the King Faisal International Prize for Medicine. He authored more than 500 papers in major journals and scientific conferences.
for Diabetes mellitus for his research on autoimmunity as a major cause of type 1 (insulin- dependent) diabetes.
In a landmark paper published in 1974 Professor Bottazzo and his colleagues showed that type I diabetes was associated with the development of antibodies directed against the insulin-producing.
B cells of the pancreas. This pioneering discovery has opended the way to a flood of investigations in the study of autoimmunity as a basic cause of failure, not only of the islet cells of the pancreas leading to type I diabetes mellitus, but also the loss of other endocrine-producing cells such as those in the thyroid and pituitary glands.
Recently Professor Bottazzo has demonstrated the presence of HLA-DR antigens on the surface of the B cells in the early stage of type I diabetes mellitus. This link between the genetic background of the sufferer and the development of autoimmunity has once more opended up a new field of exploration that may lead to a new approach to the prevention of diabetes mellitus and perhaps its treatment.
The fundamental contributions made by Professor Bottazzo have been recognised by diabetologists worldwide and fully merit the recommendation that he be a co-recipient of the King Faisal International Prize In Medicine for 1406H. (1968).