PROFESSOR EMERITUS ANTONIO D’ALESSANDRO, a treasured, long-time faculty member, passed away on February 28, 2016. He was 89.
In 1956, soon after completing his medical training in Buenos Aires, D’Alessandro entered Tulane’s MPH&TM program. The following year he became a doctoral student in parasitology under the mentorship of Dr. Paul Beaver, another legendary faculty member. He was appointed to Tulane’s tropical medicine faculty in 1961, a position he proudly held for the next 55 years.
Professor D’Alessandro made critical contributions to science and to Tulane during those years of service. From 1963 until 1985, he served as the chief of Tulane’s Scientific Technical Mission at the University del Valle, Cali, Colombia. As the field coordinator of this prestigious International Center for Medical Research and Training, supported by the National Institutes of Health, his leadership contributed significantly to Tulane’s research prominence in Latin America. He also served as acting chair of the department from 1985-1988 (when he moved to New Orleans and became an American citizen).
D’Alessandro’s research interests and numerous publications focused on a broad range of parasitic diseases, including amebiasis, Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis, tapeworms and hydatid disease, filarial infections, and others. His body of scientific work was recognized by awards and service on prestigious national, regional, and global committees and boards.
Perhaps his greatest legacy was his captivating, charismatic role as a teacher of parasitology and tropical medicine. His abundant charm and wit, as well as his vast experience from the field and clinics, endeared him to his trainees and inspired many to pursue careers in tropical medicine. In addition to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, D’Alessandro also left behind a legion of friends and colleagues on many continents who will miss his unique combination of erudition and Old-World mannerisms, his memorable stories, and his museum-worthy collections of pre-Columbian and colonial artifacts from Latin America, principally Colombia.