<i>In memoriam</i> Giancarlo De Ferrari (1965-2022)

<i>In memoriam</i> Giancarlo De Ferrari (1965-2022)

In memoriam Giancarlo De Ferrari (1965-2022)

Juan Pablo Henríquez, Silvana Martínez and Ariel Reyes share a portrait of our partner Giancarlo De Ferrari after his unexpected, painful and sad departure.

Giancarlo De Ferrari Valentini studied Marine Biology at the University of Concepción (1993), always attracted by biology as an area of knowledge. Then, after completing his thesis in Hawaii (USA), he returned to Chile where he quickly became interested in research guided by his knowledge in Marine life.

He entered the doctoral program in Biological Sciences, of the P. Universidad Católica de Chile, in the, at that time, Unit of Molecular Neurobiology with Dr. Nibaldo Inestrosa (National Prize of Natural Sciences). Giancarlo began his career as a researcher in a line directly associated with his training as a Marine Biologist, trying to implement conditions for the cultivation of Loco (Concholepas concholepas). Soon after, he focused on the study of neurodegenerative diseases, specifically Alzheimer's Disease (AD), where he was faced with a world that was unknown to him due to his professional training. Perhaps because of the self-imposed need to level out with his molecularly trained laboratory colleagues, we remember clearly that at that time Giancarlo displayed an amazing ability to review all the literature associated with his subject with exquisite detail and depth. In fact, the central idea of his PhD thesis, which established a causal relationship between an inactivation of the Wnt signal transduction pathway and the triggering of AD, has been widely embraced by the expert community in the subject and inspired not only his future line of research, but also connected with that of several laboratories in the world. At that time some of the articles with the highest citation (over 400 citations each) of his career originated.

In order to deepen his scientific questions, Giancarlo received the prestigious PEW-Latin American Fellowship and moved with his family to the University of Washington, Seattle (USA) to perform a postdoc in the laboratory of Dr. Randall Moon, one of the researchers who has contributed the most in the understanding of this signaling pathway during embryonic development. At that time, and through his stay in the Laboratory of Dr. John Hardy (at that time at the NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA), he began in Giancarlo the interest in studying human brain pathologies from a genomic perspective, an interest in which he again became an expert and that accompanied him the rest of his prolific scientific career. During that period, Giancarlo actively participated in the most cited literature review of his career in Nature Reviews Genetics (with more than 2,100 citations) and several articles with a very high citation rate.

Giancarlo, as a good descendant of Italians, was a very outgoing, passionate and strong-willed person. Without prejudice to this, and like few others, he was an honest, welcoming, affectionate, loyal human being and a very good friend, always concerned about how his close ones were. He was one of the few people who asked how are you? and listened carefully to your answer. His Italian blood was also evident in his great fanaticism for football ("grande giocatore" we told him some). During his stay in Concepción, Italy's matches at the World Cups were seen with the shirt azzurra, with his students and with the inevitable pizza, indelible memories for the many whom he trained.

In both his private and professional life, Giancarlo always stood out for his generosity. Whether with peers or students, he always had time to read manuscripts, projects, scholarship applications, and similar documents to help improve them. Giancarlo was an example of dedication, tenacity and perseverance at work. Again and again he reviewed, listened, read and improved his work, the key that made him build his successful career. He always commented that, being a Marine Biologist, he took classes in Biochemistry or Cell Biology, classes that he also shared with many of his colleagues.

On a personal level, Giancarlo was equally dedicated and never failed to show his affection to those of us who were lucky enough to be close to his path. He was a tremendously affectionate person. He lived with his mother in Santiago, whom he always cared for very carefully. Giancarlo formed a beautiful family with Giorgia, also a scientist he met at P. Universidad Católica while doing his doctorate, and who was the companion who supported him throughout his career and a fundamental pillar in his life. They had two beautiful sons, Italo and Adriano, who inherited from their father their joy and characteristic smile.

Giancarlo, or Gianni as his friends called him, was for several of us an example of perseverance, he always worked very hard to get where he wanted to be as a scientist. He always faced adversity as a crusade of his own that he could win, and there is no doubt that he succeeded. A great friend left many of us and we will always miss you. The Italian!, friendly, cheerful, cherendon, good friend...

We will remember Gianni as a true companion, in all the wide and beautiful extension of the word, since we trained as scientists at the P. Universidad Católica and especially when we had to share starting our careers as independent researchers at the University of Concepción. He was a person from whom we felt (and hope to have repaid) company, support and a lot of affection. He leaves us a tremendous void as a scientist of excellence, but above all as an exceptionally endearing human being. As always we say goodbye, and as we sincerely hope, to see you again... Ci vediamo Gianni.