Obituary: Gian Franco Bottazzo who discovered that type one diabetes was an auto-immune disease

Gian Franco Bottazzo was born in Venice in 1946. He died there on 15 September 2017.

After graduating at the University of Padua he moved to London in 1973 to study immunology with Deborah Doniach. A year later they published their paper in the Lancet proving that type one diabetes is associated with the development of antibodies to the insulin producing pancreatic beta cells. This paper stimulated a wave of research into the immunological basis of thyroid and pituitary diseases.

Bottazzo enjoyed speaking about his research, and gave his talk the title, ” Death of a beta cell: homicide or suicide?”

As a young man, Bottazzo, nearly missed out on his medical career as he was a promising football player and came close to signing for Venezia, which was in the Premier League at the time. Fortunately he completed his studies.

For many years Bottazzo held professorial appointments in London and published on the HLA antibodies. In 1998 he returned to Italy to work as scientific director to the Baby Jesus Hospital in Rome.  He leaves a wife and daughter.


BMJ 9 December 2017