October 12 2021
Franco Muggia, MD, the former Co-Chair of the Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG, now called the GOG Foundation) and a pillar of cancer research passed away suddenly on September 8, 2021, after spending the morning performing his passion: treating patients with cancer. Dr. Muggia’s career spanned 50 years with a commitment that never waned, even up to his last day. He embraced his patients with warmth and kindness, he established a pathway for future physicians to follow, and he pushed for innovations and research breakthroughs that would greatly impact the oncology community and, thus distinguish the legacy he built. NRG Oncology extends our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Dr. Muggia, and we are deeply saddened by his passing.
Dr. Muggia was a pioneer of research and a force within the gynecologic arena. He was born in Torino, Italy and was forced to evacuate due to the rise of Mussolini. His family moved to Ecuador before immigrating to America in 1952, where Dr. Muggia would follow in his father’s footsteps as a pediatrician and pursue an education in medicine. Dr. Muggia attended Yale University, then Cornell Medical College. He would go on to complete his training at Bellevue Hospital, his residency at Hartford Hospital, and his hematology-oncology fellowship at Columbia University. When he became eligible to be drafted for the Vietnam War, Muggia went on to work for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and then volunteered for Public Health Service as a part of his service to the country.
Some of the most note-worthy accomplishments Dr. Muggia has provided to the oncology community would include: his leadership within the GOG, which eventually led to the founding of the New York Gynecologic Oncology Group and the New York Phase I Trials Group, and his leadership of the Chemotherapy Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to cancer management and prevention; his term at the University of South Carolina Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center where he worked to optimize intra-peritoneal platinum and liposomal doxorubicin therapies for ovarian cancer.; and, his leadership as the Associate Director of the Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program (CTEP) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where Dr. Muggia was able to streamline agents into academia to be further researched, tested, and developed in order to provide the most relevant treatments and effective treatments for patients with breast cancer leukemia, gastrointestinal cancer, lung cancer, lymphoma, and ovarian cancer. Throughout his many research accolades, he always put the most important goal at the forefront of his efforts: helping to improve outcomes for patients with cancer. He cared deeply about his patients and saved countless lives through his tenure.
Dr. Muggia’s reach in oncology has a cast a large net and his achievements have been innumerable. In addition to the highlights listed above, he has published over 450 publications, 30 of which were published within the last 5 years. Dr. Muggia held roles as the Director of Oncology at New York University as well as the University of South Carolina. He was the editor-in-chief for the PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board and served as the Medical Oncology Committee Chair for GOG in addition to his role as Group Co-Chair. Dr. Muggia served on the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Cancer Education Committee and was on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, including becoming the first editor of the Journal’s Spanish language edition. He was the recipient of the 2019 Society of Gynecologic Oncology’s Harry J. Long Multidisciplinary Award, the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York Cancer Consortium, and the 2010 Award of Merit from the National Institutes of Health. He also was the Principal Investigator of many NIH/NCI sponsored grants. Along the way, he has guided and mentored several trainees and physicians and connected these colleagues to various opportunities. Dr. Muggia dedicated his life to portraying the significance of clinical research and bringing options to patients, specifically those with gynecologic cancers. His impact will be never be forgotten.
“I joined the GOG in 1990 as a first-year faculty fresh out of fellowship. I was privileged to be mentored and supported by the early leaders of the group and Franco was one of the key figures in my early career. His commitment to gynecologic cancer research and the impact that his ideas and mentoring had on shaping the direction of the field cannot be overstated. Everyone involved in gynecologic cancers – whether a patient, survivor or health care provider owes a debt of gratitude to Dr. Muggia,” stated Robert Mannel, MD, an NRG Oncology Group Chair and the Director of the Stephenson Cancer Center at the University of Oklahoma.
Read the article about Dr. Muggia from The Cancer Letter
Journal of Clinical Oncology’s podcast interview with Dr. Muggia about his career