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The ITSCC Oscar Colegio Scholarship Fund

Oscar Colegio, MD, PhD, ITSCC President, passed away Monday, June 15th, 2020, in his family residence in Connecticut, right before his 48th birthday. He served as Chair of the Department of Dermatology at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and Professor at the School of Medicine, State University of New York, Buffalo, Center.

Oscar Colegio was born on August 7th, 1972, in McAllen, TX to Leonardo and Rosalina Colegio, received his undergraduate degree in Biology and Pharmaceuticals from the University of Texas, Austin, and his MD and PhD training at the Yale University School of Medicine. Following his internship in Internal Medicine and residency in Dermatology at the Yale New Haven Hospital, he joined the full-time faculty of the Yale Department of Dermatology and held a joint appointment in the Yale Department of Pathology. He rose to the level of Associate Professor at Yale University, prior to being recruited to Roswell Park to direct the Dermatology Department, at that highly esteemed cancer center.

Dr. Oscar Colegio received worldwide recognition for his seminal contributions to the broad fields of cancer biology and the life-threatening cancers that afflict the immunocompromised recipients of organ transplants. He had a passion for long distance running and kayaking. He was an avid classical music aficionado, collector of sea glass, and yearned for long walks to the end of the beach originating in East Haven. He was recognized for his authenticity, generosity, humility, warmth, great sense of humor, for always being the life of the party, the perfect friend, the perfect leader, colleague and for being the last man standing and for sharing his incomparable infectious joie de vivre. Along with his wife Brenda, he leaves behind his two adored sons, Austin and Otto, in whom he took enormous pride, and his beloved dog, Cooper, his devoted parents, Rosalina and Leonardo Colegio, and his siblings Anna and Leonardo.

Many people have written and talked about his amazing accomplishments. Dr. Colegio did what he did and became an amazing physician-scientist, a true “triple threat.” He was born and raised in McAllen, Texas, on the border between the U.S. and Mexico. His family was there before the area became part of the United States. McAllen is a unique place; before the rhetoric about walls and borders between Mexico and the U.S., McAllen was a place that harmonized the two countries and cultures—and that was Oscar. However, the school system was not a typical place to foster a young physician-scientist. In fact, of his graduating class of more than 2000 students, only a handful went to college. His parents insisted that their three children would attend college; it was not questioned. So, for the yearly tuition of about $3000, Oscar went to the University of Texas at Austin. The formative time he spent here enabled the future physician-scientist to find his way to Yale. Along the way, to add to the list of degrees he would ultimately accumulate, he earned a Doctor of Pharmacy. During his first year of medical school, Oscar worked on establishing research experiences at Yale and writing his internal application for the program. The program finally accepted him, and the rest is history.

A clinician and scientist with more than 20 years of experience, Dr. Colegio led the International Immunosuppression and Transplant Skin Cancer Collaborative (ITSCC), a professional society dedicated to understanding skin cancer in organ transplant recipients, as President. He specialized in cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, melanoma, immunology, immunodeficiency-associated skin cancers and solid organ transplantation.

After his passing, the ITSCC Board of Directors established the ITSCC Oscar Colegio scholarship fund to support continued educational contributions to the broad fields of cancer biology and the life-threatening cancers that afflict the immunocompromised recipients of organ transplants. This fund was originated to attract and recognize keynote speakers to the annual ITSCC membership and academic meeting.