Abstract

“I am immensely saddened to hear the terrible news of the passing of our dear friend Roberto. He was a giant in our field. I will pray to the almighty God, to rest his soul in peace, and give his family and our fraternity the courage to bear this loss.” This is the memory of Roberto Molinari by Jatin Shah. We who have had the privilege of working with him for many years want to express our gratitude for all that we have learned by sharing daily clinical and research activities with him. Dr. Molinari worked with great passion, patience, and determination to realize his dream: a head and neck department of excellence. When he started working at the National Cancer Institute in Milan, the surgery department consisted of a single room with dozens of beds in which patients were hospitalized without distinction. The opening of the new monobloc gave space to his project that has become an international reference centre over time. He motivated a group of enthusiastic young people, with whom he developed demolitive and reconstructive surgical techniques. He supported and disseminated the concept of multidisciplinarity, collaborating with radiotherapists and oncologists. He devised a polychemotherapy schedule (VBM) and tested the potential of preoperative endoarterial chemotherapy, thanks to a consolidated collaboration with Dr. Bonadonna, encouraged by the personal friendship that saw them visiting many European countries together with their families during the summer holidays. He took care to train head and neck oncologists thanks to several initiatives of which he was a tireless protagonist: the monthly meetings on Monday evening in Varese to define head and neck guidelines with surgeons, radiation therapists and members of the GLOCC (Gruppo Lombardo di Oncologia Cervicocefalica); the live surgery courses; chapters in the handbooks of medical and surgical oncology; meetings of the national task force of the head and neck; coordination of the cooperative group head and neck of the EORTC. His department had really become a “school” and many of today’s Italian and European head and neck surgeons and oncologists owe him a lot. He deeply loved his profession; apparently reserved, he was instead open and available to any request and occasion for meeting and sharing. In the department there was a climate of friendship and collaboration that was achieved not only in clinical activity and research, but also in opportunities for aggregation outside the work environment: it was a tireless median, pillar of the football team of the institute; he played tennis with his collaborators early in the morning before starting daily practice. He loved to sing and had a wonderful voice that all the participants at conferences of the institute had learned to know. In fact, he presented and commented on the live surgery courses (not only those head and neck) with his unmistakable voice that will always remain in our memory.