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Memoirs of Britton Chance and the Britton Chance Award

Guiseppe Cicco / Università “Aldo Moro”, Bari, Italy

03 May 2011

Britton Chance has been a person of superlative quality, a big friend, a great teacher and researcher, and a big scientist in Biochemistry known in the world.

I first met Professor Britton Chance during the annual conference of the International Society on Oxygen Transport to Tissue (ISOTT) in Pittsburgh,PA, USA in 1995 (President: Prof. Edwin M. Nemoto), when I became a member of ISOTT.

Britton Chance has been the ISOTT President in 1975-76 and he organized the Annual Meeting in 1976 in Anaheim CA, USA. Since the beginning of the ISOTT in 1973, he always attended the ISOTT Annual Meetings.

Prof. Britton Chance and Prof. John W. Severinghaus, ISOTT Meeting in Bari, 2004

Prof. Britton Chance and Dr. Giuseppe Cicco at the Bari ISOTT Meeting in the Sheraton Nicolaus Hotel, 2004

ISOTT is an interdisciplinary scientific society comprising about 260 members worldwide ( Its purpose is to further the understanding of all aspects of the processes involved in the transport of oxygen from the air to its ultimate consumption in the cells of various organs in the body. The annual meeting brings together scientists, engineers, clinicians and mathematicians in a unique international forum for the exchange of information and knowledge, updating participants on latest developments and techniques, and the discussion of controversial issues within the field of oxygen transport to tissue. Example of areas in which members have made highly significant contributions include electrode techniques, spectrophotometric methods, mathematical modelling of oxygen transport and the understanding of local regulation of oxygen supply to tissue and fluorocarbons/blood substitutes. Founded in 1973 by Drs. Duane F. Bruley and Heim Bicher, the society has been the leading platform for the presentation of many of the technological and conceptual developments within the field, both at the meetings and in the proceedings of the society. The proceedings have been published by Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers in its “Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology” series and lately by the Springer Publisher, it is listed with an impact factor in Science Citation Index.

During the Annual Meetings of this Society, Professor Britton Chance was always active in all sessions. In 2002 ISOTT Meeting in Manchester, UK (President Maureen S. Thorniley), I invited him to attend at my ISOTT Meeting in Bari in 2004, when I became ISOTT President. He accepted at once.

In the 2003 ISOTT Meeting in Rochester, USA, the President Dr. Paul Okunjeff and myself suggested to the other Executive Committee members to dedicate a new award of this society to Professor Britton Chance. The Britton Chance Award was established for a young researcher (30 years old or younger on the date of the presentation of the Award) to honor Professor Britton Chance’s longstanding commitment, interest and contributions to the science and engineering aspects of oxygen transport to tissue and to the Society.

The first Britton Chance Award was presented in 2004 ISOTT Meeting in Bari, Italy (President Giuseppe Cicco) to Dr Derek Brown from Switzerland. At this Meeting Professor Chance was invited to have the Opening Lecture with Chair, Professor Marco Ferrari, Univ. L’Aquila, Italy. Everyone attended the meeting still remembers his fantastic lecture on “Oxygen extraction as a fast metabolic signal from tissue.”

I remember an episode during this meeting that is useful to define “Great” Professor Britton Chance both as man and as scientist. I met Professor Chance and let him know the name of the first winner of the Award, Dr. Derek Brown from Switzerland. I invited him to attend the Ceremony of the Award presentation during the gala dinner in the Tenuta Cocevola Hotel, Andria next to the Castel del Monte, Italy. He saw me and said, “We will see. I am not sure whether I will be there. In fact I am very busy during the period, as you know, I have many things to do. I’d like to avoid participating the Award Ceremony, because it is to celebrate the Award Winner not myself!”

The evening before the last congress day (with the gala dinner), after his active participation, Britton called me and he said, ”I am leaving Italy to return to USA. Tomorrow early morning I will take a flight to Rome and then to USA, please help me organizing my leaving. You, as president, will present tomorrow night during the gala dinner the First Britton Chance Award Winner, Dr Derek Brown, with my best wishes for a successful scientific and personal future”.

On the last day of the ISOTT Bari Meeting, early in the morning 6.00 a.m., Professor Chance returned to USA. Never had he participated in the Britton Chance Award ceremony in the following years after Bari. This is to show the “greatness and the simplicity of the soul” of Britton Chance, real example for all young and old people in science.

It has been really very interesting and useful to attend the lectures by Britton Chance and to study his papers, and a pleasure to have a scientific conversation or just a chat with him. His witty retorts and clever remarks are famous!

Forever we will remember this ISOTT Past President, as a Big Teacher, Scientist, Friend and Precious Colleague.

Britton Chance Award Winner of ISOTT
Year Winner Country Meeting Location President
2004 Derek Brown Switzerland Bari, Italy Giuseppe Cicco
2005 James Lee USA Brisbane, Australia David Maguire
2006 Hanzhu Jin China / USA Louisville, Kentucky, USA Kyung Kang
2007 Eric Mellon USA Uppsala, Sweden Per Liss
2008 Jianting Wang China / USA Sapporo, Japan Eiji Takahashi
2009 Jessica Spires USA Cleveland, Ohio, USA Joseph LaManna
2010 Ivo Trakovic Switzerland Ascona, Switzerland Martin Wolf

– Giuseppe Cicco, M.D., Ph.D.

Hemorheology and Microcirculation Research Unit, Università “Aldo Moro”, Bari, Italy
Past President (2003-2004) of the International Society on Oxygen Transport to Tissue (ISOTT)
Member of Italian Society of Internal Medicine (SIMI)