Pacini, Filippo

(1812–1883)
   Born in Pistoia (Tuscany), Filippo Pacini became famous after his death as the discoverer of cholera. He showed great aptitude for the natural sciences from an early age and in 1830 began his studies at medical school. While still a medical student, he discovered “Pacinian corpuscles,” which established his reputation within the scientific community. In 1849, only 37 years old, he became professor of general and topographic anatomy at the University of Florence. Cholera raged in Florence in the early 1850s, and Pacini began to study the disease. In a paper published in 1854 entitled “Microscopical observations and pathological deductions on cholera,” Pacini affirmed that cholera was a contagious disease provoked by living organisms (that he called “vibrions”) that destroyed the intestines and caused massive loss of fluid. Pacini’s work was almost unknown at the time; the great German scientist Robert Koch would win the Nobel Prize in 1905 for arriving at identical conclusions in the 1880s in work that was much more widely publicized. Pacini’s prior claim was recognized only in 1965, and the organism that causes cholera is now officially known as Vibrio cholerae Pacini 1854. Pacini was a pioneer in the field of microscopical research and personally built, together with his fellow scientist Giovanni Battista Amici, some of the most advanced instruments of the time. These are today housed in the Museum of the History of Science in Florence. Pacini died in Florence in July 1883.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

Look at other dictionaries:

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