From Ramses II to Michelangelo: in Venice there is the center that studies the history of rheumatic diseases
THERE ARE Michelangelo, Henry VIII, Garibaldi and even Ramses II in the list of historical figures who have suffered from rheumatological diseases. Some were in fact already present in a very distant past, while others have arisen for just over two centuries, such as rheumatoid arthritis. And knowing its history is important to better understand its mechanisms. For this reason, the Institute of History of Rheumatology was created in Venice: the first structure in the world of this kind in the field of Rheumatology, with the aim of combining historiographic, clinical and scientific research. Today the Institute “celebrates” exactly one year, which is celebrated with a national conference. Thus it turns out that Sant’Ambrogio and Ramsete II had ankylosing spondylitis, Christopher Columbus was suffering from reactive arthritis, Michelangelo, Galileo and Casanova were suffering from gout and Renoir from rheumatoid arthritis.
Epidemics and rheumatic diseases
“We started a few months ago but we have already obtained important results, deepening some aspects related to the genesis of rheumatological diseases”, says Leonardo Punzi, Director of the Institute: “We have discovered, for example, that those who have survived some epidemics, such as of the plague or malaria, runs the greater risk of developing autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatology. An extraordinarily topical issue – underlines Punzi – in this post-Covid period “.
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Rheumatological diseases affect over 5 and a half million inhabitants in Italy and are increasingly widespread. “However, they are often underdiagnosed, not recognized or their due weight is not given, although they are capable of strongly undermining the daily lives of those affected by them”, underlines Roberto Gerli, national of SIR, the Italian Society President of Rheumatology who wanted realize the institute: “Research in recent years has led to increasingly effective therapies, until the revolution completely from the introduction of biological drugs. But the study of the past can also help us to underline the role of prevention and the correct interpretation of symptoms. There is no other therapeutic area in which the patient may suffer in some cases even years of receiving the right diagnosis and being treated in the best possible way by the rheumatologist “.
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The Historical Library of Medicine
For Venice this is a new opportunity of high scientific and cultural prestige, underlined the Director General Contato and the Medical Director Carretta of the ULSS3-Serenissima, which houses the Institute of the History of Rheumatology in the Monumental Complex of S. Marco, directed by Mario Po ‘. The Historical Medicine Library, which is part of the San Marco Museum complex, is one of the most important in the world. It collects, catalogs and digitizes everything that can be useful for medical historiographic research. Here are placed books, manuscripts, period magazines, scientific and informative material produced by SIR in its long life. This material was scattered throughout the country and there was a risk of losing this heritage. Which also allow us to give due weight to Italian Rheumatology in the world. “History – concludes Gerli – represents an extraordinary opportunity for scientific analysis to favor the daily work of rheumatologists for the benefit of patients”.
Pain, for one in two rheumatologic patients is not managed