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Marcello Malpighi
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Marcello Malpighi

Marcello Malpighi (March 10, 1628 - November 29, 1694) was an Italian doctor, who gave his name to several physiological features.

He was born in Crevalcore, Italy, raised on the farm of his parents, and entered the University of Bologna at the age of 17. While he was studying philosophy, his parents died, and as the eldest son he had to take care of the family business. He returned to university after two years, and became a doctor of medicine in 1653.

Malpighi used the microscope for studies on skin, kidney, and for the first interspecies comparison of the liver. He greatly extended the science of embryology. The use of microscopes enabled him to describe the development of the chick in its egg, and discovered that insects (particularly, the silk worm) do not use lungs to breathe, but small holes in their skin called tracheae. He was the first to see capillaries and thus he discovered the link between arteries and veins that had eluded William Harvey.

Malpighi is regarded as the founder of microscopical anatomy and the first histologist. Many microscopic anatomical structures are named after him, including a skin layer (Malpighi layer) and two different Malpighian corpuscles in the kidneys and the spleen, as well as the Malpighian tubules in the excretory system of insects.

He was professor at Bologna and Pisa. In 1669, Malpighi was named an honorary member of the Royal Society in London, the first such recognition given to an Italian. In 1691, he became chief physician to Pope Innocent XII. Malpighi died in Rome.

Malpighi's important works:


External links