Stories of Medics and Medicine

Stories of Medics and Medicine

A One Day Conference
in Memory of Giuseppe Ongaro

27 September 2024

Organised by

Fabrizio Bigotti
Fabiola Zurlini

Keynote Speakers

Dániel Margócsy
Cecilia Martini Bonadeo
Vivian Nutton
Maurizio Rippa-Bonati
Luana Salvarani
Fabio Zampieri

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Conference Themes

Medical Diagnosis and Semiotics

Astral Medicine

Vesalius and Padua

Arabic Medicine and Exchanges with the Middle East


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Abstracts forthcoming

Comèl Grant

Funding to partake in the event are available via the competitive Comèl Grant. Applicants are requested to submit their proposal prior to applying for the grant.

This event honours the medical historian Giuseppe Ongaro (1936-2023) with a one-day conference dedicated to exploring his multifaceted legacy in the history of medicine.

Giuseppe Ongaro: A Life in Medicine

Ongaro’s life and oeuvre stand as a testament to scholarly dedication, resilience, and pioneering research in the history of medicine. Ongaro masterfully balanced his roles in the medical and academic fields, making seminal contributions that greatly enriched our understanding of medicine’s past, particularly the medical school of Padua.

As a doctor, he led the Centro Trasfusionale in Padova (now Unità Operativa Complessa Immunotrasfusionale), where his work with HIV-positive patients marked a significant period in medical treatment under challenging conditions. His academic journey was equally distinguished; obtaining his habilitation as a university professor (libera docenza) in 1962, he embarked on a career that would make a lasting impact on Italian and International medical scholarship.

Diagnosed with a rare form of multiple sclerosis around the same time, Ongaro faced profound personal challenges. Yet, his condition never impeded his scholarly output, which includes extensive publications that cover a broad spectrum of medical history. His translations of major medical works (Harvey’s De motu cordis, 2004), discovery of important manuscripts (Prospero Alpini’s De medico presagio), and countless papers and volumes have provided invaluable insights into the field. Alongside Loris Premuda, Onagaro was instrumental in the creation of the Centro Prospero Alpini in Marostica, and his authoritative volumes on Alpini, Wirsung, medieval and early modern anatomy, remain landmarks in the discipline.

Ongaro’s work is marked by meticulous research into both original and secondary sources often conducted in multiple languages (including English, German, Spanish, French), at a time when global connectivity and resource exchange were far more limited than today. Despite the physical limitations imposed by his condition, his intellectual curiosity and dedication remained unbounded. His merits earned him various recognitions, including a fellowship from the Accademia Galileiana of Arts and Sciences and a membership in the Centre for the Study of the History of the University of Padua.

Through his life and work, Ongaro exemplifies the essence of perseverance, intellectual rigour, and a profound commitment to exploring the complexities of medical history.

Application Process

This conference, co-organised with the Centro per la Storia dell’Università di Padova and the Studio Firmano, with sponsorship from the Accademia Galileiana, aims to delve into the many facets of his contributions, reflecting on the enduring impact of his legacy and the inspiration it continues to offer.

It appeals to scholars working on any aspect of the history of medicine, with a special emphasis on Padua and Venetian Aristotelianism, from antiquity to the eighteenth century. The range of topics include:

      • The Medical School of Padua (Vesalius, and post-Vesalian anatomy);
      • Astral Medicine in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance;
      • Arabic Medicine and Exchanges with the Middle East;
      • Medical Technology and Quantification of the Human Body;
      • Medical Institutions and Hospitalisation;
      • Classical Medicine (Hippocrates, Galen, Soranus, etc.)
      • European Medicine (including intellectual and social aspects).

Contributions from young scholars are especially invited. Abstracts of max 250 words and a 4-page CV should be sent to the organisers by 21 June 2024 (5 pm CEST) by using the query section above. Selected proposals will be notified by early July.

A number of travel grants to attend the conference are available via the competitive Comèl Grant. Applicants are requested to submit their proposal prior to applying for the grant. The Deadline for grant applications falls on 7 June 2024 (5pm CEST).

Conference Type: Hybrid
Date:  27 September 2024
Hosting Institution: University of Padua
Venue: Sala delle Edicole
Submission Deadline: 21 June
Grant Deadline: 7 June
Free attendance both online and in presence
Scientific Direction:
Fabrizio Bigotti, Marta Nezzo
Fabiola Zurlini
General Coordination:
Andreas Hylla 
Mimma De Gasperi