In memory of Professor Juan Rosai
Juan Rosai, M.D. (August 1940 – July 2020)
Despite all the advances in molecular pathology and other disciplines, the diagnosis of solid tumours today is still based in the overwhelming majority of the cases on what we see under the microscope. Juan Rosai was born in Italy as World War II began and emigrated with his family to Argentina at the age of eight. He fulfilled his immigrant parents’ ‘dream’ by becoming a doctor. But having qualified, he left for the United States because it seemed impossible in Argentina’s political climate to practise the kind of medicine in which he believed.
In the USA Rosai quickly established himself as a first-class diagnostician, specialising mainly in tumour pathology. Over his long career, he has identified many new disease entities, one of which, Rosai-Dorfman Disease, is named after him and his fellow researcher. Rosai is also an acclaimed teacher and a prolific writer. Among the topics he addresses is the tension between the two branches of pathology – the pure research and the clinically-orientated. “I have seen some people who seem to be able to do both, but they are the exception.”
He is author of the classic textbook, Rosai and Ackerman’s Surgical Pathology, which he took over from his mentor, Lauren Ackerman. He has written also a history of surgical pathology, Guiding the Surgeon’s Hand. “The founders of surgical pathology were fading out, so I thought that somebody should record their experiences before it was too late… I think we have an obligation to know where we came from and why we do things the way we do.”*
*From Conversation with Pathologist