Italy remembers its ‘king of compassion’

May 8, 2009

Prof. Antonio Chiesa's personal style was completely opposite to that of his country's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi.

Prof. Antonio Chiesa's personal style was completely opposite to that of his country's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. Whereas Italy's prime minister is notorious for polarizing opinion and courting controversy, its best-known radiologist was famed for his kindness, compassion, and humility.

Prof. Chiesa passed away in Brescia on April 26 at the age of 72. He was an active and longstanding member of

Diagnostic Imaging Europe

's Editorial Advisory Board and a familiar face at international congresses over many years.

My colleague, Wanda Schaar, experienced Chiesa's compassion firsthand. During the Italian radiological meeting several years ago, she had a major health scare and was rushed to the hospital in Milan. In spite of being president of the congress, Chiesa still found the time to visit Wanda in the hospital. Whenever he met her afterwards, he would always ask how she was -- just like a good family doctor.

Chiesa was president of the European Congress of Radiology in 2005 and chair of the ECR Executive Committee and vice president of the European Society of Radiology in 2006. He received honorary membership of the RSNA in 2005 and was awarded the ESR Gold Medal in 2009.

"Prof. Chiesa was unquestionably a driving force and a great leader in clinical and academic radiology," said Prof. Borut Marincek, president of ECR 2009, in an obituary on the ESR website. "He had a strong, persuasive power and engendered willingness for cooperation in those around him."

Chiesa did much to strengthen research and education in Italy and the rest of Europe. In 1982, he became chair of the radiology department and director of the postgraduate school of radiology at the University of Brescia, a position he held until his retirement in 2007. He was a member of the Italian Health Council at the Ministry of Health from 1993 to 1996.

His main interest was head and neck radiology, and he was president of the European Society of Head and Neck Radiology from 1994 to 1996. He was responsible for more than 150 publications and was also editor of the textbook,

Diagnostic Imaging: A Clinical Guide to the Request for Examinations,

which was published in Italian.

"For all his abilities and accomplishments, he was always gentle and modest," Marincek said. "Though suffering from a serious illness, his constitution by nature was optimistic. He always knew the importance of balance between work and family. Our thoughts go to his wife Anna Paola, three daughters, and five grandchildren."