Lives of the fellows

Cesare Bartorelli

b.29 April 1911 d.19 October 1991
MD Parma Italy(1935) *FRCP(1978)

Cesare Bartorelli died in his eightieth year. He was born in Parma, where he specialized in scientific subjects at his secondary school and later graduated in medicine from the University. From 1936-40 he was an assistant professor at the Institute of Human Physiology in Bologna and it was in 1940 that he married Maria Luisa Cusani, daughter of an architect. They had three sons and a daughter - who all became physicians.

Thanks to his initiation as a physiologist, and the year he spent at the University of Zurich under Walter Rudolph Hess, the Nobel Laureate, he strongly believed in medical research and he always taught that research and medical practice must march forward together. In all the institutions he founded and directed he always wished to see basic and clinical investigators working in close proximity, both physical and intellectual. He encouraged each of his younger colleagues to be simultaneously investigator and practitioner, so that the investigator might learn to work on practical questions raised by the clinician and the clinician might understand that answers to his questions could only be provided by research.

From 1955-66 Cesare Bartorelli was professor of internal medicine at the University of Siena and from 1966-81 at the University of Milan. He was also appointed director of the postgraduate school of cardiology at the University of Milan, a post he held until 1986. He was past president of the Italian Cardiac Society, and honorary president of the Italian Society of Hypertension. Many of his former colleagues now hold chairs of medicine or cardiology in several Italian universities.

Bartorelli’s contributions to cardiology and hypertension research were outstanding. He was a pioneer in research, particularly on neural and reflex mechanisms in hypertension. He was a leader in the early therapeutic work that made hypertension a manageable condition and his name is associated with important papers on the use of ganglion blocking agents, guanethidine, thiazide diuretics and diazoxide. His continuing interest in therapeutic development in more recent years is evident from his work on beta-blockers and the introduction of calcium antagonists into the antihypertensive armamentarium. In his early approach to antihypertensive therapy he was closely associated with other eminent physicians and therapists such as Lord Rosenheim [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VI, p.394], Sir George Pickering [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.464] and Nora Zaimis [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.628].

He was among the founding fathers of the International Society of Hypertension and a member of its first scientific council, 1966-74. He hosted the second and third scientific meetings of the Society in Milan in 1972 and 1974 and in recognition of his invaluable contributions the ISH had its eighth meeting in Milan in 1981 to honour Cesare Bartorelli on his 70th birthday. His contributions to academic life in Italy were also invaluable. In 1968, with the generous support of the many friends he had in Italian industry and business, he founded the Instituto di Ricerche Cardiovasculari - now the Centro di Fisilogia Clinica e Ipertensione - at the Ospedale Policlinico in Milan. In 1981, after his retirement from the chair of clinical medicine at the University of Milan, he founded the cardiological centre Fondazione Monzino, to which he gave his attention and affection until the end.

Cesare Bartorelli was an outstanding physician, always conscious of the interaction of body and mind when treating his patients; among them at least two generations of leading names in Italian business, culture and politics. He was a prominent figure in Milan, and in Italy, for the past 30 years. But those who worked with him day after day knew that the majority of his patients were poor and humble people who also enjoyed his time, perspicacity and humanity in equal measure.


* Elected under the special bye-law which provides for the election to the fellowship of "Persons holding a medical qualification, but not Members of the College, who have distinguished themselves in the practice of medicine, or in the pursuit of Medical or General Science or Literature.."

(Volume IX, page 31)

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