Academician of Science Albert de la Chapelle (b. 1933) has died. De la Chapelle had an impressive career in medical genetics during his half-century long research career, which lasted right up to the last few years. He explored the most important problems in medicine through the most appropriate and up-to-date approaches available at the time. Early in his career, de la Chapelle’s particular research interest was X-chromosomal abnormalities. Later he studied the genetic defects of the Finnish disease heritage and the genetic background of hereditary colorectal cancer. Finnish research into disease-causing genes owes much of its international recognition and praise to de la Chapelle’s work and his excellent international contacts.
De la Chapelle was appointed as Finland’s first professor in medical genetics at the University of Helsinki in 1974. He served as Academy Professor, funded by the Academy of Finland, between 1985 and 1995, and his research team received Centre of Excellence status in 1994. Since 1997, he worked as Professor of Cancer Genetics at Ohio State University, USA, and headed the University’s research programme on cancer genetics.
He became Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences in 1997. In 2002, the American Society of Human Genetics awarded him the William Allan Award for his scientific contributions to the field. In 1997, de la Chapelle received the honorary title of Academician of Science, the highest honour that can be bestowed on any individual scientist in Finland.