Samuel Jean de Pozzi

Born 1846
Died 1918

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French gynaecologist, born October 3, 1846, Bergerac, Dordogne; died June 13, 1918, Paris.

Biography of Samuel Jean de Pozzi

Samuel Jean de Pozzi was born to a family of Italian descent. He went to school in Pau and Bordeaux and commenced the study of medicine in Paris in 1869. A brilliant student, he became one of Paul Broca's favourite pupils. Already as a student he was an assistant in anatomy, his first works concerning topics in anthropology and comparative anatomy.

Pozzi obtained his doctorate in 1873, and in 1875 became Agrégé with a thesis on hysterotomy in the treatment of uterine fibroma. In 1877 he became chirurgien des hôpitaux and in 1883 he was appointed surgeon at the Hôpital de Lourcine-Pascal, later to be renamed for Broca. Pozzi gave theoretical lectures at this hospital from 1884 until he was able to establish his own chair of gynaecology, which soon became the centre of a recognized school of gynaecology.

Pozzi was a fine general surgeon but from the time of his appointment increasingly devoted himself to gynaecology. For this purpose he went on educational journeys to England, Germany, and Austria. He was one of the pioneers of this discipline in France. Apart from devising new technical approaches he wrote an important textbook on the subject, Clinical and Operative Gynaecology, which was translated into five foreign languages. In 1889 he was the first in France to perform a gastroenterostomy.

Interested in antiquity, Pozzi was a collector of coins and statuettes, and president in 1888 of the Society of Anthropology. He was keenly interested in medical history and suggested that the last illness of Princess Henrietta, King Charles I’s daughter, was due to a ruptured extra-uterine pregnancy. He was a frequent traveller and was particularly impressed by Alexis Carrel’s work at the Rockefeller Institute on organ transplantation and tissue culture.

He was elected member of the Académie de médecine in 1896, and in 1898 he was elected a senator from his native district.

Pozzi had a worldwide reputation as a teacher and he was a striking figure on rounds, dressed in white overalls and wearing a black Florentine cap. He was murdered in his consulting room by a patient whom he had operated on two years previously and on whom he had refused to operate again. The man shot him four times in the abdomen and although he was taken on his own demand to the Historia Hospital for laparotomy, 12 perforations of the abdomen and a laceration of the kidney were found and he died shortly afterwards. The murderer committed suicide immediately after.

With Jayle, Pozzi in 1897 founded the Revue de gynécologie et de chirurgie abdominale.

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