Antimalarial Strategies in Italy: Scientific Conflicts, Institutional Policies


  • Gilberto Corbellini Department of Experimental Medicine, Section of History of Medicine, University of Rome “La Sapienza, Rome, I


Italian malariology , Angelo Celli , Battista Grassi, Camillo Golgi


The historiography of malaria in Italy - from the discoveries of the parasite and its specific mosquito vector to the eradication of the plasmodia - has characterized the evolution of Italian malariology and antimalarial strategies as a rationally planned enterprise. The received view is that the essential scientific contributions and the effective approaches which ultimately allowed the defeat of the disease were produced thanks to the unitary effort of an efficient and influential community of investigators. Even though the outstanding and international standard of Italian malariologists individually taken cannot be downplayed, a more thorough exploitation of archival sources shows that the history of the Italian malariological community was also characterized by theoretical, academic and personal rivalries, influencing the evolution of malariology and the institutional debate on antimalarial strategies.The aim of this paper is to examine the reasons and the implications - in different periods and institutional dimensions of the antimalarial activities - of personal and institutional disputes within two generations of Italian malariologists. The reconstruction of the origins and of the content of persistent scientific and institutional controversies within the Italian malariological community does not diminish the value of the Italian experience in the field of malariology and the antimalarial activities. On the contrary, it contributes to a less triumphalistic, but more realistic and dynamic view of the conquest of Italian malaria.