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Bernardino Ramazzini (1633–1714): a visionary physician, scientist and communicator
  1. F Carnevale1,
  2. S Iavicoli2
  1. 1Centro di documentazione storia sanità regione Toscana, Firenze, Italy
  2. 2Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Epidemiology and Hygiene, INAIL Research Area, Italian Workers Compensation Authority, Rome, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr S Iavicoli, Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Epidemiology and Hygiene, INAIL Research Area, Italian Workers Compensation Authority, Via Fontana Candida 1, Monteporzio Catone (Rome) I 00040, Italy; s.iavicoli{at}inail.it

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Three hundred years after his death, it is interesting to speculate how much this doctor from Carpi's talent for clinical innovation and communication still relates to modern occupational medicine. Bernardino Ramazzini insisted that progress in medicine should not focus solely on physiology and clinical questions, but should also cover the health of the population, observing any relations between environmental factors and disease. This approach, while influenced by the Hippocratic doctrine of ‘airs, waters, places’, also refers to the need to test new criteria for observation ‘on the population’, using new tools for processing and interpreting the findings. This surely demonstrates that this scholar from Carpi was very forward-looking indeed!

His De Morbis Artificum Diatriba [Diseases of Workers], first published in Modena in 1700, reveals his forward-thinking ideas in its dedication to the Venetian reformers, laying the foundations for the social role of occupational medicine and hygiene, linking workers, business and political institutions. The treatise took at least 10 years to be conceived and written in the last decade of the 17th century. Ramazzini was 67 when he completed it, with more than 40 years of medical practice behind him, and in that very same year, at the peak of his fame, he was recognised by being called to the University of Padua.1

Ramazzini's talent is also clear from his ability to communicate and arouse his readers’ interest, not only within the close circles of medicine but more broadly within the community.2 Like any great communicator in modern times, Ramazzini tells us that the idea of writing …

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