The History of Medicine Section

The medical section is split into three rooms, each named after a great medical practitioner: anatomist Antonio Scarpa, surgical pathologist Luigi Porta, histologist and pathologist Camillo Golgi.
They were part of the Anatomy Teaching Laboratory, where the Anatomy Museum was, founded by Rezia, continued by Scarpa, Panizza and then Zoja who left a printed description of it. At present a fourth room is in preparation, to be named after Antonio Ferrata, to house the haematology section and the first laboratory for electronic, histo-chemical and genetic microscopy.
The section contains apparatus, relics and anatomic preparations, particularly from the second half of the 18th Century, 19th and 20th centuries. These are on view in the show-cases, which Scarpa had constructed in the seventeen hundreds, in Venetian style, with dark decoration, friezes and allegorical figures of considerable artistic merit.
The anatomical material, which makes up the majority of the collection, consists partly of dry preparations, partly of specimens preserved in alcohol or formaldehyde. They cover different areas, and were made up to illustrate specific surgical operations or responses to experimental situations, or to demonstrate anatomical areas of peculiar interest.

Outline of the History of Medicine in Pavia

In the first half of the 1700s, despite the scientific revolution in the 1500s, medical teaching in Pavia was still run on traditional lines. The lectura almansoris, used in Pavia right from 1400 and still to be found in the Tabulae Lectorum of 1741 prescribed teaching the precepts of Hippocrates, , Galeno, Oribasio, Ezio, and Paul of Egina, by reading the medieval Kitabu-L-Mansuri, the famous work of the well-known Persian doctor Rhazes, who lived before 1000 A.D.
In 1728, Gerolamo Grazioli, the chief surgeon at St. Matthew's Hospital and Brambilla's first master, was appointed ad Lecturam Almansoris .
The 1773 science teaching curriculum was to be a "guide and directive to teachers on the giving of public instruction in science". It was a highly innovative, written statement of how medical teaching should be carried out following Marcello Malpighi's (1628-1694) suggestions in his De recentiorum medicorum studio. This was followed, in 1712, by Giovanni Battista Morgagni (1682-1771)'s inaugural lecture entitled Institutionum Medicarum rerum idea medicum perfectissimum adumbrans, and in 1715 by the opening lecture by Giovanni Maria Lancisi (1654-1720): De recta medicorum studiorum ratione instituenda.
Maria Teresa's reforms were complemented by Joseph II's provisions including the Curriculum of Studies for the Medical Faculty of the University of Pavia, drawn up by Johann Peter Frank in the academic year 1785-1786 and put into operation the following year.
Some of the points deduced from Scarpa's speeches and the curriculum are as follows:

  • Updating of the teaching programme to take account of current scientific progress, with qualified teachers teaching useful, not theoretical but practical material, via many experiments.
  • Teaching and scientific work to be entrusted to lecturers of proven worth, or very promising ones.
  • Development of the library and science equipment.
  • Close connections between human, comparative and pathological anatomy, surgery and clinical surgery.
  • Requirement for scientific research to be continually up-dated in its research techniques.
  • Necessity for teaching also to continually up-dated in its didactic methods.
  • Basic importance of good anatomic preparation of corpses and of their careful preservation for didactic purposes.