- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Ruggero Oddi

Born 1864
Died 1913

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Italian anatomist and surgeon, born July 20. 1864, Perugia; died March 22, 1913, Tunis, Tunisia.

Biography of Ruggero Oddi

Ruggero Oddi was born of a modest family in the small town of Perugia, the son of Filippo and Zelinda Pampaglini. He spent four years at the University of Perugia, one at Bologna, and one at Florence, where he graduated in medicine and surgery on July 2, 1889. He was still a young medical student when he identified the sphincter and in addition characterized its physiological properties.

Oddi remained an assistant at the Physiological Institute in Florence directed by Luigi Luciani (1840-1919). He made a study trip to the Experimental Pharmacological Institute at the University of Strasbourg – directed by Oswald Schmiedeberg (1838-1921) – during which he isolated chondroitin sulphate from the amyloid substance. Oddi re-introduced bedside teaching and one of his pupils, J. van Heurne, returned to Leyden and introduced it there.

At the early age of 29 years, In January 1894, Oddi was appointed head of the Physiology Institute at the University of Genoa. However, already on April 1, 1900 he was relieved of his position due to a dalliance with drugs and fiscal improprieties. According to one biographer he used Vitaline, a homeopathic preparation. However, since true homeopathic drugs cannot possibly have any effect whatsoever, this should not have been a problem. He then sought employment as a physician in the Belgian colonial medical service and spent a brief time in the Belgian Congo, during which time his mental condition became more unbalanced, partly as a result of his using narcotics.

Ruggero Oddi died in Tunisia in March 13, 1913, at the age of only 48.

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