Professor Tessa Holyoake Memorial - please post your tribute!


The CML community is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Professor Tessa Holyoake.Prof Tessa Holyoake in lab

Prof. Holyoake, was a world-leader on Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) achieving outstanding results in CML. Through her research she developed methods to purify the cells of leukaemia patients. Her most recent study analysed both CML and normal blood stem cells and the key to the survival of CML stem cells. The team led by Prof. Holyoake then developed a drug combination to simultaneously target these critical proteins and kill the CML stem cells.

Last month Prof Holyoake was awarded a Royal Society of Edinburgh Royal Medal by the Queen of Britain for recognition of her contribution to the field of Life Sciences by her discovery of the existence of cancer stem cells in CML and her development of a new therapy for this condition.Professor Tessa Holyoake with queen   

Tell us your tribute to Tessa now!           

Through this page, we ask you to express your sympathies, to communicate your condolences and testimonials including your memories, thoughts and prayers. With your heartfelt messages we will compose an International Memorial Book honouring our admired and brilliant Professor Tessa Holyoake. Prof Tessa was a brilliant scientist and clinician and she will be sorely missed.

Please, post your tribute and/or memories in the left side also feel free to add any photos with your message. We will use your tributes and photos in a Memorial Book.

If you have any questions or trouble, please feel free to email us at




It was immensely sad to hear about Tessa's death. She was a brilliant scientist and a tremendously nice person and it has been a great privilege to know, and interact with, her. Rest in peace, Tessa.

Giovanni Morrone
University Magna Graecia - Catanzaro, Italy
11 October 2017

We will never forget Tessa ! Our work is mainly on CML stem cells and on the effects of targeted drugs with the aim to cure more patients with CML. Tessa always supported our CML studies and was always a superb discussant and collaborator. In addition, Tessa was also a good heart and great personality. Our deepest sympathies go to her family and friends. We will all continue to work on CML concepts Tessa developed. And we will never forget her.

Peter Valent
Medical University of Vienna
1 October 2017

I was in the Phase 1 STI 571 (Gleevec) clinical trial at UCLA and have followed Professor Holyoake's work since the very first time I attended the ASH meeting in 2002. Hearing her speak at a session was intriguing and following her work has provided so much hope to all of us living with CML. I was hoping to thank her someday, but now it's too late. I mourn along with the rest of the CML community who are suffering this great loss of not only a brilliant scientist, but a caring and compassionate human being. My condolences to her family and all who loved her.

Virginia Garner
27 September 2017

It is always a shock to hear about the passing of extremely talented and dedicated people. Their passing leaves a void in our lives which is not possible to fill.
Professor Tessa Holyoake was such a person and our debt of gratitude to her can only be settled by ensuring that her dedicated research is kept alive and our memory of her burning forever in our hearts as Leukemia patients.
Although I and most Leukemia patients never had the honor of meeting you personally, we realize that we are alive today because of yours and others dedication to eradicating these evil forms of Cancer.
May you Rest In Peace and your family find solace in knowing that your spot is reserved in the Archives of Medical History for eternity.

Basil Jacobs
CML Patients In Treatment Free Remission
22 September 2017

I was shocked to hear about the death and great loss of one of the world's best scientist in the CML field, Tessa Holyoake. It is so hard to believe that a person who devoted all their life to find a cure for a once deadly form of Leukemia, has lost her battle to another form of cancer. This is so unfair.
I was diagnosed with CML in February 2000 and was told I have about 3 years to live. I was lucky to get on Imatinib trial within few months, and thanks to this targeted therapy I am still alive today.
I became a very active CML advocate in my country Israel and also globally with the CML Advocates Network. I heard very early on the trials that Tessa is holding to eradicate the leukemic stem cells and find a cure for CML. Those of us who knew her and met her in scientific meetings, had the feeling that she will be the one to put the strap on the CML and find a cure. I remember her first trial of combining a GCSF with Imatinib. it made so much sense, but wasn't the solution, and many more followed.
I will never forget you Tessa talking in so many scientific meetings and working so hard for the CML patients.
rest in peace and I know you are in heaven now

Sharf Giora
20 September 2017

When I think of Dr. Tessa Holyoake, words like brilliant, caring, compassionate, dedicated, driven, motivated, and so many more come to mind. Her contribution to the CML community and cancer research, as a whole, is nothing less than legendary.

Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends, colleagues, and everyone impacted by the loss of this amazing pioneer.

We will never forget you and are eternally grateful for all you've accomplished on our behalf.

Rest in Peace.

Greg Stephens
15 September 2017

Our deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of Professor Tessa Holyoake. Her dedication and devotion to her research to help leukaemia patients will never be forgotten as the results of her work have greatly improved and extended the lives of so many of us living with CML around the world, even deep down here in Africa.

14 September 2017

How terrible and sad news that Tessa is dead. I will miss her dedicated endeavor to understand stem cells and her brilliant analytical mind. We suffer a great loss.
We must remember her great contribution and continue our strive not only to cure CML patients but also to understand how.

Henrik Hjorth-Hansen
10 September 2017

I am a 20-year CML survivor from Thailand.
I would like to express my deepest condolences for a big loss of Dr. Tessa's family and friends.
Living with CML now about 20 years, this is diffinitely a part of the greatest success of Dr. Tessa's research and development.

Pasusant Wattanaboonya
10 September 2017

I was terribly saddened when I learned about the untimely passing of Tessa Holyoake .
Tessa made very important contributions to the understanding of the nature of the CML leukemic stem cells ,and her work will help us to develop treatments leading to complete eradication of this disease ..

moshe talpaz
university of michigan
10 September 2017

An unexpected and tremendous loss for all the CML community. Tessa has been a pioneer in the research on the biology of the leukemic stem cells and her contribution has eventually shed some light on this previously obscure field. We will miss her so much, as a person and as a mind.

Giuseppe Saglio
9 September 2017

I am a CML Client -

and 10 years post diagnosis

many years ago - a wise person said that if I look across and see the opposite Mountain - I can see that the mountain is getting closer all the time - Prof Tessa Holyoake enabled with here research to make sure that mountain was within reach for those with CML

Thanking her research for her part internationally for management, understanding and wellness for those with CML

Living Well With CML - is in part to Prof Tessa Holyoake

I salute her - from across the oceans

Rest in Peace xxx

Sue Hurt
CML for Australians
9 September 2017

Our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Dr. Tessa Holyoake

For our community is a great loss.

Krishna Prasad Upadhyaya
9 September 2017

Our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Dr. Tessa Holyoake

For our community is a great loss.

8 September 2017

The entire scientific community and especially the female scientists will mourn Tessa. She has been a great mentor for all the young and not so young women involved in research. I met Tessa many years ago when she invited me to a PATIENT CONFERENCE at Macdonald Houston House Hotel in
Edinburgh in 2007. There I saw how, beside being the great scientist we all know, she was very kind and devoted to patients. It has been an honor for me to be part of that event, and I tried to transfer this pivotal experience also in Italy, organizing myself patients conferences with the same "Tessa's spirit". She was never giving up, for that I know her. Always trying to add new pieces to the CML puzzle, with the only final goal to save patients.
Life should have been more grateful to her....

a big hug, Tessa

Monica Bocchia
Hematology Unit University of Siena Italy
8 September 2017

Tessa was the most wonderful human being who was involved in my daughters care from age 13 and took it over when she moved to adult services. She is now almost 22 and a mum to a beautiful daughter thanks to Tessa. She said it as it was and always made us feel that we were in a partnership with her . She was so knowledgeable about everything CML which was greatly reassuring . She will be a huge loss to her family as well as to her other family of patients who loved her and admired her and her colleagues worldwide. Her legacy will continue RIP xx

Eileen Adams
8 September 2017

Slovenian CML patients and our families are very grateful to Dr. Tessa Holyoake for her work and achievements for helping CML patients . On this sad day we wish to express our sympathies to her family, friends and co-workers.

Since 2005 I am proud to say I have been a Tessa Holyoake 'Groupie'. That was the year that Dr. Richard Rockefeller, Suzan McNamara and I went to ASH in Atlanta. That is when Richard talked to us about his excitement with Tessa Holyoake's work and the idea of going hunting after the CML stem cells.

By 2008 I finally got to attend the ESH CML meeting that was held in Boston, attending it with Richard Rockefeller. There I was able to witness first hand the brilliance of Tessa Holyoakes work. Although some of her talks were a bit over my head, Richard would always take the time to explain it. It became very clear to me that CML stem cells days were numbered as long as Tessa and her team were on their case.

I was very saddened to hear of her passing, we have lost a young brilliant talent. However, we are fortunate to have witnessed her vision and equally fortunate that she has built a lab dedicated to pursuing her works as well as making new discoveries.

It just seems especially cruel that our wonderful Tessa can bring so much to saving the lives of CML patients, yet have her own life taken away from us so tragically premature. From everyone at the CML Society of Canada, we offer our heartfelt condolences to Tessa's family and send meditations to the heavens for Tessa's Soul.

We know her and Richard Rockefeller are sitting down somewhere over tea and Tessa is keeping him up to date on the latest research. May they both continue to watch over us.

Love and tender sympathies,

Cheryl-Anne Simoneau, President, The CML Society of Canada

Cheryl-Anne Simoneau
8 September 2017

What a great loss, not only to her family but to the whole CML community, and research into cancer generally. Thank you for all you have done for us all, we were all so sad to here of your passing, far far to young.

Nigel Deekes
8 September 2017

I never had the pleasure of meeting Professor Holyoke, I heard from many that she was a lovely, vibrant and passionate person. I followed her work with interest and, as many, thought she was going to find the cure. RIP - thank you for all that you did for the CML community.
I'm sure that you've opened the way for present and future CML researchers.

Barbara Meunier
8 September 2017

CML-Stop is saddened by the passing away of Professor Tessa Holoake ...


8 September 2017

Thank you so much Professor Tessa. You are true hero. Rest in peace.

8 September 2017

The ripples of life that Tessa affected will never fade away, her work will live on in many of us.
It's hard, almost impossible, to express such gratitude but her memory will drive us all on to complete and support the work she started.
She will never be forgotten. Thank you and God bless.

Kris Griffin
8 September 2017

Mis condolencias por tan dolorosa pérdida.Animo a segur su legado.


Pedro Incera Pérez
Pacientes LMC
8 September 2017

As a patient of CML, one of the hardest situations is to lose one of the professionals who has dedicated her life to trying to make ours as long and better as possible.

Thank you very much to Dr. Holyoake for all he has done, and we accompany all his family and loved ones in these sad moments.


Toni Montserrat
8 September 2017

I am deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Tessa, one of the smartest minds in CML stem cell research and one of our key hopes to find the roots of CML to finally cut them off.

Apart from being such an asset in research, she was such a great, kind and open person that was always a pleasure to meet. She came to our CML Horizons meetings to speak to patient advocates from all world regions about her actions to understand how to eradicate CML, something that no therapy has been able to do so far.

Losing Tessa, who spent so much of her energy to put an end to cancer, to a dreadful cancer herself will even more motivate me not to stop my CML advocacy work until we've changed its face from a tiger to a chicken... We'll miss you, Tessa!

Jan Geissler
7 September 2017