Mario Luna, MD: January 21, 1935-November 9, 2008.
Article Type: In memoriam
Subject: Pathologists
Author: Ayala, Alberto G.
Pub Date: 08/01/2009
Publication: Name: Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine Publisher: College of American Pathologists Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 College of American Pathologists ISSN: 1543-2165
Issue: Date: August, 2009 Source Volume: 133 Source Issue: 8
Persons: Biographee: Luna, Mario
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 230247095
Full Text: Mario Luna, MD, was born in Jalisco, Mexico, in 1935 and became a US citizen in the 1960s. He graduated from medical school at the University of Guadalajara (1959) with high honors, achieving the highest grades of his generation, and demonstrated his leadership abilities by becoming the president of the medical student body of his medical school as well as the president of the State of Jalisco Medical Student Federation. He initiated his medical career by doing a rotating internship (1959-1960) and began his pathology residency in Mexico City (1960-1962). He immigrated to the United States in 1962 and completed his pathology residency at the Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, (1962-1964) under the direction of Dr P. Szanto. He did a surgical pathology fellowship at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) and blossomed from assistant professor (1965-1970) to full professor (1983-2002) of pathology. His love for head and neck surgical pathology began in 1965 when he began teaching at the dental school of The University of Texas (UT), obtaining the titles of assistant to full professor of stomatology at the UT Dental Branch. He also directed the autopsy service at MDACC (1969-2002). He retired in 2002 but remained part-time faculty until his death.

Dr Luna served as an editorial member of Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Annals of Diagnostic Pathology, Head and Neck,and Patologia (both Mexican and Spanish). He contributed to the Houston Society of Clinical Pathologists in various positions, culminating as its president from 1992 to 1993 and receiving the most prestigious award from that society, the Harlan J. Spjut Award. He was also a member of the Texas Society of Pathologists and president of Latin American Foundation (19921994). He was given lifetime membership status in the Latin American Society of Pathology and the Mexican Association of Pathologists. He was honored with the Medal Cultural al Merito (Cultural medal to the Merit), conferred by The Mexican North American Cultural Institute of Jalisco, Mexico, received the title of honorary professor from the University of Guadalajara, Mexico, and the Cruz Nacional de Sanidad from Caracas, Venezuela.


His career encompasses being an excellent surgical pathologist, a head and neck specialist, pulmonary and autopsy pathologist, mentor of fellows and residents, and consultant on difficult cases. He did pioneer works on pulmonary toxicity of bleomycin, wrote on signet ring cell carcinoma of the bladder and rhabdomyosarcoma of the spermatic cord in urologic pathology, and wrote a seminal paper on myoepithelioma of the palate. All these works were published in the early 1970s when little was known about these entities. He continued to write long after retirement and some of his papers are still being published after his death. In total, he published more than 250 peer-reviewed articles, 111 abstracts, and 30 chapters in different books.

He was a much sought-after speaker and was known at MDACC as the ambassador of the pathology department. His last travel was to the International Academy of Pathology meeting in Athens, Greece, to present head and neck pathology research. It was the week before his health problems began. Those who saw him there believed he was having a good time.

His best attribute was his character. He made friends with anybody that he came in contact with. He coached his children on the soccer team and proceeded to become a referee of the game. If the opportunity presented at the bullfights, he did not hesitate to jump into the sand and fight the bull--armed like a torero with a red cape. His last event of this type was in Juarez, Mexico, during a Texas Society of Pathologists meeting.

Dr Luna leaves his wife of 46 years, Guadalupe, 3 sons, and 3 grandchildren. In the emergency room, his last thought in life referred to how Cristian, his grandchild, had done the day before in his game of soccer. When told that Cristian had scored 4 goals, Dr Luna went to sleep smiling.


The Methodist Hospital

Houston, Texas

Accepted for publication March 4, 2009.

From the Department of Pathology, The Methodist Hospital, Houston, Texas.

The author has no relevant financial interest in the products or companies described in this article.

Corresponding author: Alberto G. Ayala, MD, Department of Pathology, The Methodist Hospital, 6565 Fannin St, Rm 227, Houston, TX 77030 (e-mail:
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.