Lives of the fellows

Vittorio Ventafridda

b.29 October 1927 d.23 October 2008
MD Pavia(1952) PhD(1970) FRCP(1998)

Vittorio Ventafridda was a pioneer in the study of cancer pain and palliative care. He was born in Ragogna, in the province of Udine in northern Italy, the son of Giovanni Ventafridda, an engineer, and Maria Ventafridda née Beltrame, a housekeeper. He attended high school in Milan, and then studied medicine at the University of Pavia, qualifying MD in 1952.

He then spent four years in the United States, where he completed his training in anaesthesiology in Chicago at the University of Illinois.

In 1958 he returned to Milan, where he was first in charge of anaesthesiology department at the Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori. He subsequently became director of the palliative care unit. From 1994, he was director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) collaborating centre in cancer control and palliative care, at the European Institute of Oncology, Milan.

In 1977 he co-founded and became scientific director of the Floriani Foundation, which aims to help terminally ill patients. In 1980s, with the help of the Floriani Foundation, he launched a programme to provide continuing care at home for the terminally ill. The programme expanded to 14 other institutions and became a point of reference for WHO’s cancer pain relief program. He was also one of the principal authors of the WHO analgesic ladder on cancer pain management, which has been translated into more than 28 languages and applied worldwide.

In early 1970s he was one of the founders of the International Association for the Study of Pain. He also co-founded and directed the Italian and European Associations for Palliative Care, as well as the Italian School of Medicine and Palliative Care.

He wrote more than 250 papers, mostly on pain control, quality of life measurements and palliative care, and co-edited four books. He was on the editorial board of ten scientific journals.

In 1964 he married Maria Luisa Salavadori. They had two sons, Pablo and Giorgio, and three grandchildren, Susanna, Alberto and Tommaso.

RCP editor

[Pain 142 (2009) 1-2; European Association for Palliative Care – accessed 12 December 2014; International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC) News – accessed 12 December 2014]

(Volume XII, page web)

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