THE FOUNDATION: INNOVATION AND EDUCATION
In honor of Gianni Bonadonna, the Foundation was launched to pursue his legacy as founding father of modern oncology.
Gianni Bonadonna promoted innovation through the application of new drugs and multidisciplinary approaches, and trained new generations of medical researchers to cultivate progress in oncology for patient’s benefit.
Innovation and education were Gianni Bonadonna’s guidelines, and our Foundation is committed to pursuing this mission, under the guidance of its President, Luca Gianni.
Dr. Gianni Bonadonna (Milan, 1934-2015) achieved his medical degree at the University of Milan in 1959. During his postdoctoral training, he attended as Research Fellow the Divisions of Clinical Chemotherapy (1961-63) and of Clinical Investigation (1963-64) of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He then joined the Istituto Nazionale Tumori of Milan where he became Director of the Division of Medical Oncology in 1976. In 1991 he was appointed Head of the Department of Cancer Medicine in the same institution and Associate Professor at the School of Hematology of the University in Milano.
He was member of many scientific societies including ASCO, ESMO and AACR, and of the Editorial Boards of many medical journals.
Since 1997 he was Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, London, UK.
In 1999 he founded the Michelangelo Foundation, a non-profit organization for Cancer Research and Treatment to conduct international clinical and translational studies and to improve collaboration in many medical disciplines.
Dr. Bonadonna’s main research achievements included the initial clinical studies on Adriamycin (doxorubicin), epirubicin and bleomycin, a number of seminal trials on adjuvant and primary chemotherapy for high-risk breast cancer, and the definition of combined modality treatments for Hodgkin’s disease. He also co-authored several articles on the pathways of spread of head and neck, testicular, and rectal cancers and of malignant lymphomas. He introduced the methodology of controlled clinical trials in medical oncology in Italy and the Istituto Tumori of Milan was awarded in 1978 the Bristol-Myers unrestricted grant for cancer institution on this topic.
In 1972 he designed a new combination chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s lymphoma known as ABVD (Adriamycin, bleomycin, vinblastine and dacarbazine) that proved to be superior to the classical MOPP chemotherapy and effective in MOPP-resistant patients.
ABVD is nowadays (40 years later) still considered the golden standard for conventional chemotherapy in Hodgkin’s lymphoma, being not only effective but also very well tolerated.
In 1974 he designed and conducted the first study on the alternating delivery of MOPP and ABVD, an eight-drug regimen which proved effective in many clinical situations. In recognition of his research in Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the Committee of the International Symposium on Hodgkin’s lymphoma in Cologne (Germany) officially instituted the “Gianni Bonadonna Hodgkin’s lymphoma Award and Lecture”.
In 1973 he designed and conducted the first randomized study to test the activity of the CMF (cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and fluorouracil) combination chemotherapy as an adjuvant treatment in node-positive operable breast cancer. Adjuvant CMF proved to be effective in significantly reducing the risk of disease recurrence and death over a prolonged period of time (30 years). He then designed and conducted a number of seminal trials on both adjuvant and primary chemotherapy for high risk breast cancer. In patients with poor prognosis, the sequential administration of adjuvant Adriamycin followed by CMF proved to be superior to a different sequence of administration of the same drugs and to the classical CMF. The administration of primary chemotherapy achieved prompt tumor shrinkage, enabling surgeons to perform breast conservative procedures in patients that would otherwise have request mutilating mastectomy, and able to induce pathological complete remission in a fraction of patients, favorably influencing their prognosis.
As a tribute to his contributions in the field of cancer research, the American Society of Clinical Oncology instituted in 2007 the “Gianni Bonadonna Breast Cancer Award and Lecture” that is presented annually to a researcher of merit in the field of breast cancer.
Since 2017 the Lugano International Conference on Malignant Lymphomas, in collaboration with the American Association for Cancer Research, has instituted the ’Gianni Bonadonna Memorial Lecture’.
Visiting Professor in several Universities all over the world, he received numerous prestigious awards among which the “Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation” (1982); “David Karnofsky Award” (American Society of Clinical Oncology, 1989); “Medal of Honor” (American Cancer Society, 1991); “Steiner Award” (1992), “General Motors Award” (1993) “Ambrogino d’oro – Prize of the Municipality of Milano” (1993); “Clinical Research Award” (Federation of European Cancer Societies, 1995); “Distinguished Service Award for Scientific Achievement” (American Society of Clinical Oncology, 1999); “Saul Rosenberg Award for trials on malignant lymphoma” (2001); “Breast Cancer Award” (European Institute of Oncology, 2003); “1st St. Gallen Golden Cancer Award”(2003); “Premio Internacional de Oncología Duque de Badajoz della Fundacion para la Investigación y Formación en Oncología” (2003).
Dr. Gianni Bonadonna is author or co-author of more than 550 scientific publications which appeared in the international medical literature, and co-editor of an Italian Textbook on Medical Oncology whose 8th edition appeared in June 2007. He is also author of four books on medicine for lay people and of one book on the Sepoy Revolution in India.
He is also author of some books for lay people and in the one published in 2005 titled “Coraggio ricominciamo (Let’s take heart again)” he narrated his experience in family, social and working life after a severe cerebral haemorrhage and encourages all patients and relatives to never give up. He was chairman of multiple institutional and national committees aimed at improving the patient-doctor relationship.
Luca Gianni is the first and current President of “Fondazione Gianni Bonadonna” for innovative therapies for cancer. Co-founder and President from 2015 till December 2019 of the Michelangelo Foundation, now chairman of the Michelangelo Foundation Breast Cancer Research Committee, for the coordination of international research activities and trials in breast cancer.
During his career Dr. Gianni has worked on new drug development in the field of oncology and on the definition of innovative drug therapies in Medical Oncology. Since 1995 he focused on clinical and translational research in women with breast cancer and has overseen the clinical and research activity related to breast cancer at the Istituto Nazionale Tumori of Milan and at the Michelangelo Foundation.
Dr. Gianni has conducted and contributed key research on anthracyclines and performed studies of drug disposition of several new anticancer agents. Upon returning from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, USA to work with Dr. Bonadonna at the Istituto Nazionale Tumori, in 1983 he launched the first Phase I Unit in Italy and led the phase I projects there until he moved to San Raffaele in 2011, where he was appointed Director of the Department of Medical Oncology until November 2019.
Specifically related to breast cancer, Dr. Gianni has been involved in the development of paclitaxel, and later in that of the HER2-directed antibody trastuzumab as adjuvant therapy. He launched and conducted the NOAH neo-adjuvant trial of chemotherapy and trastuzumab in women with locally advanced/inflammatory HER2-positive breast cancer. The favourable results of the study were the basis for trastuzumab becoming the first approved neoadjuvant therapy in women with HER2-positive breast cancer in Europe.
More recently Dr. Gianni contributed to the design of the development of pertuzumab to obtain dual block of the HER2 receptor leading to synergistic activity in HER2+ early and metastatic breast cancer.
The studies he chaired brought to the approval of dual block of HER2 as neoadjuvant approach and to the design of the Aphinity adjuvant trial in women with HER2+ early breast cancer. After establishing the profound differences of HER2+ breast cancer depending on the status of the estrogen receptor in the HER2+ tumor, Dr. Gianni and collaborators have documented the ability of obtaining major antitumor effects with a chemotherapy-free approach in women with HER2+/ER+ operable breast cancer.
Dr. Gianni is recipient of several grants and research support, and of several awards, among which he was recipient of the “Gianni Bonadonna Award and Fellowship” by the American Society of Clinical Oncology in 2011.
In his scientific career Dr Gianni ha published more than 200 articles\reviews in peer reviewed journals.