Paul Calabresi, a former chairman of the National Cancer Advisory Board and member of the President’s Cancer Panel, and a founding faculty member of Brown University Medical School, died Oct. 25 of cancer. He was 73.
Calabresi was one of the pioneers in the pharmacological treatment of cancer and developed approaches that led to the cure of such diseases as Hodgkins lymphoma.
Calabresi was born on April 5, 1930, in Milan, Italy. He was the son of Dr. Massimo Calabresi and Professor Bianca Maria Finzi-Contini Calabresi. His family was active in the anti-fascist resistance and fled to the U.S. in September 1939 when he was nine years old. They settled in New Haven, Conn.
A graduate of Yale University (B.A., 1951; M.D., 1955), Calabresi served his internship and residency on the Harvard Medical Services of the Boston City Hospital. He was on the faculty of the Yale University School of Medicine until 1968 when he came to Brown University as professor of medical science and physician-in-chief at Roger Williams General Hospital. Calabresi was the founding director of the Brown University Cancer Center, and in 1974, became chairman of the Brown University Department of Medicine.
In 1990, with his brother Guido, Calabresi endowed the Finzi-Contini Lectureship at Yale University in memory of their mother. Finzi-Contini was a scholar of European literature.
In 1991, while continuing his teaching at Brown, he transferred to Rhode Island Hospital and was appointed chairman of the National Cancer Advisory Board by President George H.W. Bush. In 1995, he was appointed to the President’s Cancer Panel by President Bill Clinton.
In 1995, Calabresi, along with Nobel Prize winner Michael Bishop of the University of California at San Francisco, authored what became known as the Bishop-Calabresi report that recommended reorganization of the NCI Intramural Research Program.
In 1998, he was invited to serve on the Steering Committee for the National Dialogue on Cancer, and he was the chairman of its Nominating Committee. In 1999, Calabresi was appointed to the National Cancer Legislation Advisory Committee by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif).
At his death, Calabresi was a member of the Board of Overseers at the E. Bronson Ingram Cancer Center at Vanderbilt University, and the Board of Overseers at Tufts University School of Medicine. He was also a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and a master of the American College of Physicians.
He received the Oscar B. Hunter Memorial Award in Therapeutics from the American Society of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics and the St. George Medal for distinguished volunteer service from the American Cancer Society. He served as president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (1969-70), and was a member and an officer of more than a dozen professional societies. He served on nearly two dozen committees and study sections of NCI, and the editorial boards of 13 journals, including The New England Journal of Medicine. Calabresi authored or edited more than 220 manuscripts and books on the pharmacology of antineoplastic agents and the management of cancer.
Calabresi was chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee to the T.J. Martell Foundation and chairman of the Clinical Pharmacology Advisory Committee to the PhRMA Foundation. He was chairman of the Advisory Committee for the Yale Cancer Center, University of Wisconsin Cancer Center, and Columbia University Cancer Center, and was a member of the National Board of Trustees for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and an honorary life member of the Board of Directors of the American Cancer Society, having served as president of the Rhode Island Division from 1990 to 1992, and president of the New England Cancer Society from 1994 to 1995. He was president of the International Society for Geriatric Oncology, and President of the Rhode Island Cancer Council.
Calabresi was known as a caring and compassionate physician. He continued to look after his patients until his death.
He is survived by his wife of 49 years, the former Celia Treadway Gow; three children, Steven of Brookline, Mass., professor of law at Northwestern University; Janice Calabresi Maggs of Arlington, Va., a lawyer; and Peter of Baltimore, Md., an associate professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University; eight grandchildren; and a brother, Guido, of Woodbridge, Conn., former dean and Sterling Professor Emeritus at the Yale University Law School and Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.