Ernesto Paolasso Dies in Motorbike Accident

January 29, 2013

ROSARIO, SANTA FE, Argentina — A pioneer of clinical research in cardiology in Argentina, Dr Ernesto Paolasso (Instituto de Investigaciones Clinicas de Rosario, Argentina), has died; he was tragically killed in a motorbike accident in Mendoza on Friday.

Paolasso founded ECLA (Estudios Clinicos Latinoamerica), the first academic research organization in Argentina, in 1990 and served as director there until 2010. Before this he had conducted the first-ever randomized controlled trial in acute MI in his country, the EMERAS study.

Dr Ernesto Paolasso

Dr Salim Yusuf (Population Health Research Institute [PHRI], McMaster University, Hamilton, ON), who knew Paolasso for more than 25 years, told heartwire : "I knew Ernesto very well; we collaborated since 1986 or 1987 when he, Rafael Diaz, and I met to develop clinical research and trials in Argentina/South America. This led to the creation of EMERAS, which evolved into the ECLA. Ernesto was a warm individual with great loyalty and sense of fun. I feel we have lost a dear friend, and we at the PHRI will miss him."

Ernesto was a warm individual with great loyalty and sense of fun. I feel we have lost a dear friend.

Many cardiologists of international standing have sent their condolences to Paolasso's family via his long-time friend and colleague, Dr Cecilia Bahit, who provided them to heartwire .

These include, from the US, Drs Chris Cannon, Bob Giuliano, and Marc Sabatine (Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard University, Boston, MA); the latter said Paolasso was "a highly valued member of the international cardiology community and a dear part of the extended TIMI family." Drs Rob Califf, Chris Granger,and Magnus Ohman (Duke University, Durham, NC) all expressed their sadness, with Ohman remarking: "He was a terrific person." Dr Mauricio Cohen (University of Miami, FL)and Dr Bob Harrington (Stanford University, CA) said they also had fond memories of him. Harrington said: "Back in the early 1990s Ernesto spent some time making rounds with us in the Duke CCU.  He was a wonderful man with a passion and enthusiasm for life. He will be missed."  

Also paying their respects are Dr D Prabhakaran (Centre for Chronic Disease Control, New Delhi, India), Dr Frans Van de Werf (University of Leuven, Belgium), and Dr Freek Verheught (Heartcenter, Amsterdam, the Netherlands); the latter said this "is a great loss for Argentinian cardiology. Ernesto was every inch a gentleman."

Born in 1943 in Rosario, Paolasso graduated from medical school there in 1968 and completed a cardiology fellowship at Instituto Coracao (INCOR) in São Paolo, Brazil. During his time at ECLA, he served as a consultant to WHO for noncommunicable diseases. Most recently, he was the director of the Instituto de Investigaciones Clinicas de Rosario in Argentina.

Paolasso was buried in a private ceremony yesterday. His family has asked that donations be made to an multiple-sclerosis organization, details of which will be provided in an update to this story.