In Memoriam: Professor Antonios Valavanis (20.01.1952-30.05.2023)
Professor Antonios Valavanis, a distinguished figure in the field of neuroradiology and clinical neuroscience, passed away on May 30, 2023, at the age of 71. His contributions to the advancement of interventional neuroradiology and neuroscience, as well as groundbreaking research, have left an indelible mark on the field. Born in Athens, Greece, in 1952, Prof. Valavanis dedicated his life to expanding our understanding of the human brain and improving patient care.
In 1977, Prof. Valavanis earned his medical degree and completed his residency in radiology, specializing in neuroradiology, at the Department of Radiology of the University Hospital of Zurich. One of his notable achievements came in 1985 when he introduced MR-neuroimaging at the University Hospital of Zurich, a groundbreaking milestone in the field. Prof. Valavanis' career flourished, starting as an Assistant Professor in 1984 and eventually attaining a full professorship in neuroradiology in 1994.
Throughout his professional journey, Prof. Valavanis was deeply influenced by the renowned Prof. Mahmut Gazi Yaşargil, the director of neurosurgery at the time and often referred to as the father of modern micro neurosurgery. Inspired by Prof. Yaşargil's work, Prof. Valavanis founded the Institute of Neuroradiology at the University of Zurich, assuming the role of chairman. He continued to lead the institute and expand his expertise, particularly in arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), aneurysms, and central nervous system (CNS) tumors.
Prof. Valavanis also collaborated closely with Prof. Ugo Fish, a distinguished figure in ENT surgery and otoneurology. This interdisciplinary partnership further enhanced Prof. Valavanis' expertise in various conditions, such as head and neck neoplasms. Together, they achieved remarkable clinical outcomes in ENT surgery, particularly in the challenging field of otology and the treatment of intra- and extradural lesions at the skull base. Their innovative approach revolutionized the management of cases previously deemed inoperable because of unavoidably high morbidity and mortality rates.
Under Prof. Valavanis' guidance, the Institute of Neuroradiology at the University Hospital of Zurich gained international recognition as a leading center for interventional neuroradiology. Beyond his institutional role, he actively served in numerous prestigious positions within the medical community. He presided over the first WFITN (World Federation of Interventional and Therapeutic Neuroradiology) congress held in Zurich in 1991 and served as the congress president. Additionally, he held the position of President of the World Federation of Neuroradiological Societies from 1997 to 2002 and has been the President of the Swiss Society of Neuroradiology since 2001. Furthermore, Prof. Valavanis played key roles in the Executive Committee and as Chairman of the Committees on Interventional Neuroradiology and Head and Neck of the European Society of Neuroradiology. He also chaired the Scientific Program and Scientific Award Committee of the World Federation of Interventional and Therapeutic Neuroradiology.
On a personal note, I had the privilege of working alongside Prof. Valavanis in Zurich from 1998 to 2004. During my nearly six years there, he offered invaluable guidance and support, both professionally and personally. His mentorship played a pivotal role in my subsequent achievements: serving as an Excom member of WFITN in 2015, assuming the role of Secretary General in 2017, and ultimately being nominated as President starting in 2022. I attribute all these accomplishments to his unwavering support. Reflecting on this journey, I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have learned from such an extraordinary mentor, and my heart is filled with deep gratitude.
The passing of Prof. Anton Valavanis is an immense loss to the field of neuroradiology and clinical neuroscience worldwide. We mourn the loss of a revered mentor, an incomparable lecturer of renown, a dedicated colleague, and a dear friend. His numerous achievements and exceptional character will always be remembered, serving as an inspiration for us to further explore the subject, refine surgical and interventional techniques, and prioritize patient care.
In light of this sorrowful event, I extend my deepest condolences and offer prayers for the repose and peace of Prof. Valavanis' soul.
Michihiro Tanaka, M.D.,Ph.D.
President of WFITN (World Federation of Interventional and Therapeutic Neuroradiology)
Director of Neurosurgery and Neuroendovascular Surgery, Kameda Medical Center, Japan