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Professor Antonio Cao: a remembrance.

When I received Prof. Antonio Cads acceptance letter to his Centro Microcitemico at Cagliari University, I presumed that it was ushering in a new age in my life about the "molecular genetics of thalassemia in Turkish patients".

I met Prof. Cao on a very hot August day in Cagliari/Sardinia and the year was 1984. 1 was the first Turkish researcher accepted to the Thalassemia Center. He welcomed me and introduced me to Mario Pirastu, who had recently returned from Y.W. Kan's laboratory in the United States and had created a new method for the identification of mutations in the beta-globin gene with usage for prenatal diagnosis (1).

In Sardinia, I had the chance to experience the establishment of a new molecular genetics laboratory and publish the first paper on the thalassemia mutations in a Turkish population (2).

Later on, I visited the center several times. Always I appreciated the sincerity of the Sardinians and I accepted Cagliari as my 'second city'.

Prof. Cad's center was an "International Thalassemia School". Afterwards, several Turkish researchers visited the center and contributed to the molecular genetics of thalassemia in our population (3). He created an algorithm to solve the thalassemia problem in Sardinia. This contribution helped in managing the thalassemia problem in different populations (Figure).

He had over 300 publications, mainly on different types of thalassemia and their molecular genetics. His group also contributed to the understanding of the molecular genetics of Wilson's disease, especially in the Mediterranean area and including the Turkish population (4).

After his retirement, and even after his death, his scientific contributions continued (5).

Prof. Antonio Cao passed away last year, on 12 June 2012. His contribution to the thalassemia field and to Turkish researchers will always be remembered.



(1.) Pirastu M, Kan YW, Cao A, Conner BJ, Teplitz RL, Wallace RB. Prenatal diagnosis of beta-thalassemia. Detection of a single nucleotide mutation in DNA. N Engl J Med 1983;309:284287.

(2.) Akar N, Cavdar AO, Dessi E, Loi A, Pirastu M, Cao A. Beta thalassemia mutations in the Turkish population. J Med Genet 1987;24:378-379.

(3.) Sozuoz A, Berkalp A, Figus A, Loi A, Pirastu M, Cao A. Beta thalassemia mutations in Turkish Cypriots. J Med Genet 1988;25:766-768.

(4.) Loudianos G, Dessi V, Angius A, Lovicu M, Loi A, Deiana M, Akar N, Vajro P. Figus A, Cao A, Pirastu M. Wilson disease mutations associated with uncommon haplotypes in Mediterranean patients. Hum Genet 1996;98:640-642.

(5.) Cao A, Kan YW. The prevention of thalassemia. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med 2013;3:a011775.

Nejat Akar MD, Prof.

TOBB-ETU Hospital, Pediatrics Department

Ankara, Turkey

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Author:Akar, Nejat
Publication:Turkish Journal of Hematology
Article Type:Obituary
Geographic Code:7TURK
Date:Sep 1, 2013
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